Off-Duty Officer Hits, Kills Bicyclist Crossing Road

By Jamie Stockwell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 3, 2006

A Fairfax County police officer driving to work yesterday struck and killed a bicyclist who was trying to cross busy Arlington Boulevard, police said.

The off-duty officer was heading west on Arlington Boulevard (Route 50) in his 2004 Toyota Highlander sport-utility vehicle about 5:15 a.m. in the Falls Church area "when for an unknown reason the cyclist entered the pathway of the vehicle," said Lt. Richard J. Perez, a Fairfax police spokesman.

The cyclist was identified as Jose Maria Carranza Claros, 50, of the 6800 block of Barrett Road in the Falls Church area. It could not be determined yesterday where he was headed in the early-morning darkness.

The officer, who had the green light, was identified only as a 36-year-old man with 12 years of experience on the force. He is assigned to the Criminal Justice Academy, police said, but will remain on administrative leave while an investigation into the crash continues.

At the crash site yesterday, near Annandale Road, there were no visible signs that a fatal crash had occurred hours earlier. Traffic rushed past the cluster of strip malls and gas stations. Police said portions of the road were closed in the morning while detectives from the county's reconstruction unit investigated the crash.

An internal investigation into the crash also has begun, police said.

Claros was the 13th person killed by a vehicle in the county this year, police said, up from four during the same period last year. In all last year, 10 people were killed by vehicles, police said.

Before yesterday's death, the most recent fatality was Aug. 19, when Fidel Angel Hernandez, 25, was struck as he tried to cross the 8100 block of Richmond Highway in the Hybla Valley area. The driver of a 2005 Honda van, headed north, was not charged. Two days earlier, Tirzo Carreto-Santos, 21, died while crossing Little River Turnpike in the Lincolnia area. He also was struck by a van.

The minority population in Fairfax continues to be disproportionately affected by the pedestrian deaths, according to the statistics.

Regionwide, about 2,700 people are injured by automobiles each year, and an average of 80 die, according to a report sponsored by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. In Fairfax, 62 pedestrians have been killed since 2002.

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