A 13-year-old Maryland boy has been charged with being intoxicated while driving a car that crashed in Fairfax County on Saturday morning, killing a 14-year-old District Heights girl and injuring four other youths who were traveling on a church field trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains. The car's owner, who was a trip chaperone, was charged with being drunk in public and allowing an unlicensed person to operate a motor vehicle.
The 13-year-old, whose name police would not release because he is a juvenile, was driving a 1978 Buick station wagon owned by David Dittman, 21, of 2112 Spring Holly Dr. in District Heights, said Virginia State Trooper Steve Jones. The two were traveling with six other passengers on a trip sponsored by the District Heights Presbyterian Church, Jones said.
As the car was traveling west on Rte. I-66 near Centreville, Va., the car went out of control, struck a guard rail and flipped over an embankment killing passenger Dawn Marie Stewart of 2400 Ramblewood Dr., and severely injuring her sister, Robin, and three others in the car.
The 13-year-old also was charged with driving without a license.
"I don't understand why nobody's been charged with manslaughter," said Edward Stewart, father of the two girls. "My daughter's life doesn't mean anything?"
He said the girls were members of a Maryland youth group named "Teenship." The group left Saturday morning about 7 a.m. on a trip to climb the lower mountain foothills. "I was under the impression that there was a lot of supervision on these trips," he added.
The pastor of the District Heights Presbyterian Church, Roy T. Sharrett, said yesterday that he and members of the 25-person youth group were attempting to piece together what led to Saturday's accident.
"I just found this thing out myself," said Sharrett. "Needless to say we are all in a state of shock."
Sharrett described Dittman as a responsible man, active in church affairs. "He's always been a most responsible person," Sharrett said. "I'm absolutly mystified, as are his parents, as to why this whole thing happened. We've never even known him to drink."
Dittman could not be reached for comment. His father, Lawrence Dittman, said, "I've been told not to comment" on the incident.
A spokesman for Commonwealth Hospital in Fairfax said Robin Stewart is in serious condition with injuries to her upper body. Identities were not available for the three other injured youths, all of whom remain hospitalized.
Police said the boy was released in the custody of his parents; Dittman was not held.