A trail of debris blowing out of the woods along the Dulles Toll Road led police yesterday to a demolished Honda Accord with two dead men inside. The driver was missing and presumed badly injured after staggering away from the high-speed crash.
Police yesterday were seeking people who either saw the crash or an injured man walking along the toll road near the Capital Beltway interchange late Thursday or early yesterday. Identities of the two men in the crushed car were not released pending notification of relatives.
The car had been stolen by two men in a carjacking in the Vienna area of Fairfax County on Tuesday morning, police said. While Virginia State Police investigators worked the crash scene, Fairfax County detectives were there continuing their probe of the carjacking. Police couldn't say whether the two crash victims had any role in the theft.
The mangled 1999 Accord, which landed about 15 feet from the eastbound lanes of the toll road just past the Beltway exit, was towed out of the woods yesterday afternoon with the bodies still inside. State police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell said autopsies probably would be performed Monday.
Authorities were not ruling out foul play as a possibility in the deaths, Caldwell said. But investigators at the scene said preliminary evidence pointed to a high-speed one-car crash, possibly involving alcohol.
Motorists alerted state police to debris in the toll road about 11:45 a.m. A member of the state's motorist assistance program drove to the area to remove the trash and found a trail of papers leading down an embankment to the woods separating the toll road from the Beltway exit.
A fresh set of tire tracks led from the exit ramp directly into the woods. Both the car and the bodies of the two men were cold, Caldwell said, leading police to believe that the crash had occurred as much as 18 hours earlier. The car apparently hit the woods at high speed, Caldwell said, on a Thanksgiving night when thick fog cut visibility.
But no one was in the driver's seat of the four-door car, Caldwell said. Other physical evidence, which police would not disclose, led investigators to believe that a third person had been in the car but had fled.
State police checked hospitals for new arrivals, with no luck. Fairfax police brought in a dog to help search the vicinity, but again nothing turned up.
Fairfax police believe the car was stolen about 5:45 a.m. Tuesday from a woman who was walking to her car in the 2500 block of Chain Bridge Road. The woman, 41, told police a car pulled alongside her with two men inside. The men asked her for directions to a specific address.
The woman told the men she didn't know of the address and kept walking. The men got out of their car and demanded her car keys. The woman complied. One of the men climbed into her car. The other man returned to the first car, and both drove away. The woman was unhurt.
State police ask that anyone with information about the crash, or who might have seen someone walking along the toll road after 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, call 703-323-4503.