2-Car Crash Kills Devoted Principal; Traffic Signals Out

Regina Williams was principal of Rosaryville Elementary.
Regina Williams was principal of Rosaryville Elementary. (Courtesy Of Prince Georges County Public School - Courtesy Of Prince Georges County Public School)
By Avis Thomas-Lester
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 17, 2007

Her students were out of school when Principal Regina C. Williams headed to Rosaryville Elementary School on Wednesday morning. Ice-packed snow still covered some streets and sidewalks in her Bowie neighborhood.

But Williams, known for her commitment to her students, had to go in. "She went in to work because she was dedicated and felt it was her duty to check on things at her school," said her husband, Glenwood Williams Jr.

Regina Williams, 51, was driving south on Route 301, a few blocks from her Bowie home, when her 2004 Lexus 450 sport-utility vehicle was broadsided at Trade Zone Avenue by a 2004 Honda Accord driven by Pablito Lozano, 67, of Oxon Hill, police said. The force of the collision caused the SUV to flip onto its side, ejecting Williams. She was not wearing a seat belt. She was pronounced dead less than an hour later at Prince George's Hospital Center.

According to authorities, traffic lights were out at the intersection because of storm-related damage, and Lozano failed to yield the right of way.

Traffic reconstruction investigators will send their findings to the state's attorney's office, which is expected to file charges, officials said.

Yesterday, a steady stream of family friends gathered at the home Williams shared with her husband, pastor of Edified Christian Ministries International in Bladensburg, and daughters Rotoya, 21, a senior at Howard University, and Rene'ya, 23, a student at Bowie State University. Her husband said their daughters were relying on their faith to cope with the latest in a series of accidents.

Nine years ago, Williams was in a traffic accident that left her unable to walk or talk for months, her husband said. In September, she was badly injured in a fall down the stairs. It was only two weeks ago that she started driving again to the Upper Marlboro school, he said.

"She had been through so much," he said.

Glenwood Williams said he was at home just after 11 a.m. when he got a call about the accident. He went to the scene, but officials would not let him go to his wife.

"I knew things did not look good," he said. He said his wife had told him that she felt obligated to follow the school system's directive that principals report to work.

Williams had worked for the Prince George's school system for more than 20 years, most recently at Rosaryville, where she was vice principal for five years until being tapped for the top job in 2005, schools spokesman John White said.

"She was a kind, loving and inspirational person," said Kimberly Isom, president of the Rosaryville Elementary PTO. "She gave an inspirational each morning to motivate all 700 of her babies. And that's what she called them -- her babies."

PTO officers yesterday were trying to notify parents of Williams's death so they could break it to their children. When classes resume Tuesday, counselors will be available to help students, officials said.

Isom told her daughter, Kia, 11, a fifth-grader, about Williams's death yesterday.

"I told her Mrs. Williams had been in accident," Isom said. "She asked if she was okay. I said, 'She is now.' Her face lit up and she asked where Mrs. Williams was. I said, 'She's in heaven.' That's when she lost it."

Staff researcher Meg Smith contributed to this report.

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