James Brian Doherty walked everywhere. The 45-year-old D.C. resident hated driving so much that he didn't have a driver's license. But he worried about getting hit by a car.
A few years ago, after nearly getting clipped in an Adams Morgan crosswalk, he wrote a letter to The Washington Post complaining about the city's reckless motorists.
Yesterday, Doherty was walking home from work just after midnight when a pickup truck went through the crosswalk at 16th and U streets NW and struck him, police said.
He was taken to Howard University Hospital and died there about 30 minutes after being struck. Two taxi drivers who witnessed the hit-and-run accident followed the truck and another witness flagged down a patrol car, said Sgt. Joe Gentile, a D.C. police spokesman.
Police stopped the truck at 14th and S streets NW and arrested the driver, Marcos A. Flores, 43, of no fixed address. Flores was charged with second-degree murder and driving while intoxicated, Gentile said.
At Doherty's Adams Morgan apartment yesterday, friends of the legal assistant and trivia buff couldn't believe that his fears had come true.
"It's exactly the kind of thing he was always afraid of," said Hugo Mendoza, Doherty's roommate. Mendoza said he set out Doherty's favorite dinner of Spanish chicken and fried yucca before going to bed Sunday night, expecting to wake up to the coffee Doherty always made in the morning. Instead, he said, "the police woke me up at 4 in the morning to ask me all kinds of questions about Brian."
Doherty, a Boston native, loved D.C. because he could walk everywhere, recalled Kevin Mulvey, another of Doherty's friends. But he was vocal about aggressive drivers, Mulvey said.
Doherty lit up the George Washington University Law School with his sense of humor during the four years he worked as an executive assistant in the student affairs office, said Renee Y. DeVigne, dean of student affairs. She added that when he came to work "he used to say how disrespectful drivers here were toward pedestrians."
In August 2002, Doherty wrote to The Washington Post's traffic columnist, Dr. Gridlock, complaining about an experience with a D.C. police car in a crosswalk on 16th Street.
"The driver in one lane stopped and waved me across. However, the driver in the other lane came flying up and almost clipped me in the crosswalk," he wrote. "This is not an unusual event in the District, where the driver always thinks he/she has the right of way over a pedestrian."
D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) said he has had many complaints about reckless and drunk drivers on the main traffic arteries that cut through his ward. "This is still another reason to redouble our efforts against speeding and substance abuse," he said. "This is a very sad illustration of these problems."