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  Senate Clerk Killed by Car; Wife Injured

Scott Bates, Reuters
Scott Bates, the legislative clerk of the U.S. Senate, was killed when he was struck by a car. (Reuters)
By Avis Thomas-Lester and Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, February 6, 1999; Page A13

Scott Bates, the legislative clerk of the U.S. Senate, was struck by a car and fatally injured last night as he was walking across Lee Highway in Arlington with his wife, police said. His wife was critically injured.

Bates, 50, who frequently called the roll of the senators during votes, and Ricki Ellison Bates, 49, were crossing Lee Highway (Route 29) at Harrison Street, near their home, just before 6:30 p.m. when the accident happened, police said. The car that struck the couple, a Mazda sedan, was headed east, said Cpl. Justin McNaull, Arlington police spokesman.

The couple was flown by helicopter to Washington Hospital Center, where Scott Bates died a few hours later, police said. Ricki Bates was reported in serious but stable condition early today.

The car's driver, whose identity was not released, was taken to Arlington Hospital, McNaull said. He said the driver's injury was not believed to be life-threatening.

Senate Parliamentarian Robert B. Dove said Bates came to the Senate from Arkansas almost 30 years ago, and after starting as bill clerk, worked up to the legislative clerk's post about eight years ago.

During the impeachment trial, Bates had been playing an important role on the staff, Dove said. "In many ways he's been the lead person," Dove said, with "so much to do that is new."

Sharon Zelaska, assistant secretary of the Senate, described Bates as "just a pillar of our department. Everybody depended on him." She called him "just a wonderful human being and a family man."

Zelaska said Bates and Assistant Legislative Clerk David J. Tinsley alternated in calling the roll for the votes taken Thursday as part of the impeachment trial of President Clinton. The trial was not in session yesterday.

News of Bates's death shook residents of his neighborhood, where he was remembered as a generous man who cleared snow from an elderly neighbor's walkway and volunteered for three local school PTAs. Neighbors said the Bateses frequently took evening walks.

David Bell, clerk of the Arlington Circuit Court and a friend of Bates's, said, "Everybody in the country has seen [Bates] on TV recently with the trial. . . . He called me recently and asked me, 'How do you clerk a trial?' We were laughing about it, really, joking in a way."

Neighbors said the Bateses have three children -- two daughters in college and a son in middle school.

A neighbor who did not want to be identified recalled Bates as "a very kind and generous man. He was a wonderful supporter for the madrigal group that his daughter and my daughter belonged to at Yorktown High School. [The Bateses] hosted many parties for that group and also worked tirelessly" for PTAs at Tuckahoe Elementary and Swanson Middle schools and Yorktown, the neighbor said.

Ricki Bates works for the Arlington County Public Schools, neighbors said.

Police accident reconstruction investigators were examining the site of the accident last night, described by McNaull as a well-lit commercial area where the posted speed limit is 35 miles per hour. McNaull was not sure whether the couple had been on a crosswalk.

He said the intersection is not considered dangerous. None of the nine previous pedestrian fatalities in the county since 1994 had been at that location.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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