2nd Victim Dies; Driver Is Charged In 2-Vehicle Crash

Construction crews clear debris from the Florida Avenue rowhouse struck by a sport-utility vehicle Sunday night.
Construction crews clear debris from the Florida Avenue rowhouse struck by a sport-utility vehicle Sunday night. (By James M. Thresher -- The Washington Post)
By Debbi Wilgoren and Petula Dvorak
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A second man died yesterday of injuries stemming from a dramatic car crash that ended with a sport-utility vehicle slamming into a Northwest Washington rowhouse, D.C. police said.

The victims were passengers in a Honda Civic that was struck by a speeding Honda Pilot at 10:30 p.m. Sunday, police said. The driver of the Pilot then plowed into the rowhouse at 605 Florida Ave., triggering a cascade of bricks on top of and around the SUV and leaving the living room, fireplace and chandelier of the house exposed. Two people in the house escaped unharmed, police said.

The driver of the Pilot, Jesus Flores-Cardenas, 23, was charged with driving while intoxicated and negligent homicide. Flores-Cardenas, of the 1300 block of Randolph Street NW, was hospitalized yesterday with injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening, police said.

Police said Flores-Cardenas was driving west on Florida Avenue, "at a high rate of speed," when he rear-ended the Civic, which was stopped at a red light. Sources who spoke on condition of anonymity said he might have been going as fast as 80 mph.

Yonas Gebrehi, 37, of the unit block of Buchanan Street in Mount Rainier, was thrown from the back seat of the Honda Civic and died at the scene, police said. A front-seat passenger, Simon Asfaha, 30, of the 6000 block of Seventh Street NW, died yesterday at Washington Hospital Center. The driver of the Civic, Mussie Yohannes, 38, of the 1800 block of M Street NE, was hospitalized with injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening.

Contractors were at the 1895 brick-front rowhouse in LeDroit Park most of yesterday, tearing it down after inspectors from the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs declared it uninhabitable, officials said.

The homeowner said she was heartbroken when she saw the devastation. "It was very hurtful to see," said Ozie Quarterman, who bought the house with her husband 20 years ago and was renting it to two Howard University students.

The Quartermans, retired architects, had used the house with a rounded room topped by a turret as their architecture offices and dreamed that someday their son, a lawyer, would be able to convert it into a law office. They hope to rebuild it, Quarterman said.

"It was a beautiful, revival-style townhouse. It had an extraordinary wooden staircase with a widow's walk on top," she said. "A fireplace in every room but the kitchen. Ball-and-claw tub. Just beautiful."

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