Fairfax Man Is Charged After Fatal I-270 Crash

Suspect Michael Dean Eaton
Suspect Michael Dean Eaton
By Philip Rucker and Howard Schneider
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, August 23, 2008

A 14-hour manhunt ended yesterday when a Fairfax County resident surrendered to Maryland State Police and was charged in the hit-and-run death of a 10-year-old girl in Montgomery County.

Michael D. Eaton, 32, was driving on a suspended license and at a high rate of speed shortly before midnight Thursday when his Range Rover struck a Jeep Cherokee carrying a family of four on Interstate 270, police said. The collision killed Jasmine Warr and injured her parents and an 11-year-old girl.

Eaton continued driving for about a mile before abandoning the Range Rover and fleeing on foot, police said. He turned himself in about 2:30 p.m. at state police barracks in Rockville.

Eaton, of the 4700 block of Bibeford Square, was charged with felony hit-and-run. He was being processed at the Montgomery County Detention Center late yesterday.

"He's cooperating," state police Sgt. Michael Brennan said.

Eaton has been convicted of several traffic violations in Maryland and Virginia, including speeding, failing to obey a stop sign or yield sign and making an improper U-turn, according to court records.

In 1999, Eaton was fined after being convicted of driving while intoxicated in Fairfax City. In Prince William County last August, he was charged with refusing to take a breath test and driving while intoxicated, court records show. The former charge was dropped and the latter was amended to reckless driving. Eaton was convicted of that offense in October, and he received a suspended sentence of 30 days.

Brennan said that Eaton was driving on a suspended Virginia driver's license Thursday, but it was unclear when the suspension was ordered and for what offense. Court records show that Eaton's license was suspended for six months in October in the reckless-driving case.

His attorney in the reckless-driving case did not return calls seeking a comment late yesterday.

Eaton was employed in the Gaithersburg area, and police think he might have been driving home at the time of the crash, Sgt. Melanie Bowling said.

After the collision, just south of the interchange with Interstate 370 in Gaithersburg, Eaton drove away "without stopping or rendering aid" and then abandoned his vehicle, state police said in a statement.

Authorities used dogs and a helicopter to search for him. The dogs tracked Eaton as far as Piccard Drive near I-270 before losing the scent, police said.

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