Four-year-old Jessica Winesett and her 2-year-old brother, Mark, were especially excited about last weekend's visit with their father, and their babysitter helped them make something special for him.
They dabbed some orange paint on their feet and pressed their footprints onto construction paper. "From the bottom of my sole, Happy Father's Day!" their homemade cards said.
But what began as a fun-filled weekend with their father turned into a family tragedy Sunday night when Mark Winesett Sr., 25, and his two children were killed in a car accident while on their way to the 7-Eleven for Slurpees.
Fairfax County police said Winesett was attempting a left turn from Chantilly Road onto Route 50 eastbound around 8:50 Sunday night when his car was slammed into by a westbound car driven by Raymond Crowe, 33, of Vienna. Jessica Winesett died at the scene; her father and brother died later at Fairfax Hospital. Police said all three victims were thrown from their car.
Police said Crowe was traveling at an excessive speed and charged him with one count each of vehicular homicide and driving while intoxicated.
According to sources, Crowe's 1990 Mazda was going more than 70 miles an hour along a stretch of Route 50 where the speed limit is 55, and could have been traveling as fast as 90 mph when it struck Winesett's 1986 Subaru on the driver's side.
Police said Winesett was not at fault because high speed is difficult to gauge.
Capt. Ron Miner, commander of the Fairfax traffic division, said Winesett, who lived with his parents in Centreville after separating from his wife, had stopped at a stop sign before pulling out onto Route 50, and that Crowe's Mazda was traveling so fast that the force of the impact spun Winesett's vehicle around twice.
Crowe may have been wearing a seat belt, police said; the other five persons involved in the crash, including two passengers in Crowe's car, were not.
Miner said police "feel confident" that Mark Jr., who was riding in front with his father, would have survived had he been in a child safety seat, as required by law.
"I've been doing this for four years and this is getting old," Miner said yesterday. "It could have been prevented if people didn't drink and drive, if people obeyed the speed limits and if people used the safety restraints available to them."
Virginia law requires a child restraint device for children who are under 4 and weigh less than 45 pounds. Seat belts are required for drivers and front-seat passengers.
Crowe, a parts manager for a car dealership, was under observation and in police custody yesterday at Fair Oaks Hospital. The two passengers in his car, with whom he'd been fishing on Sunday, were treated at the hospital and released, police said.
In 1984, Crowe pleaded guilty in Fairfax Circuit Court to possessing drugs and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, with all the time suspended. The following year he was convicted in General District Court of reckless driving, for which he was fined $50 and lost his driver's license for 90 days.
Donna Winesett, who separated from her husband two years ago and lives in Clifton, went to the crash site early yesterday and stared at the orange paint on the highway, marking where the bodies had been.
"She wanted to see where it happened, look for some answers," a friend, Tim Ford, 29, said softly.
Results of blood alcohol tests performed on Crowe will not be available for several weeks, Miner said.
Donna Winesett and Ford learned of the crash late Sunday when they returned to Clifton from Michigan.
"The last time I seen 'em was on Friday, when they were working on their Father's Day presents," said Donna Winesett, 24, a nursing assistant. "They gave me a kiss. I told them I loved them, that I'd see them soon."
As she sat on her front-porch swing, Winesett sobbed and trembled. "My babies. They're so beautiful," she said. Jessica, who was to start kindergarten in the fall, loved to dress up; Mark, who would have turned 3 in August, was "a pretty content little boy."
Winesett said she met her husband, a roofer, when both were students at Chantilly High School. He was a good father, she said, who saw his children every other weekend.
While Winesett was at work, the children were cared for at the Centreville home of "Miss Olly," their name for Odalys Carbonell. Yesterday, Carbonell said she felt as though she had lost two of her own children. Each day after their nap, they would ask "When is Mommy coming?" Carbonell said, and they could hardly contain their excitement over their special Father's Day cards.
"They were looking forward to being with him," she said. Staff writer DeNeen L. Brown contributed to this report.