A man who fatally struck a cyclist in a hit-and-run incident along the Mall in Washington pleaded guilty Tuesday to a charge of involuntary manslaughter.
Phillip Peoples, 20, of Suitland made the plea in D.C. Superior Court. He was charged in October in the hit-and-run death of Thomas Hendricks Hollowell, 64, of Arlington.
Hollowell was riding his bike about 7:30 a.m. on Sept. 24 near 12th Street and Constitution Avenue NW when he was hit by a dark-colored sedan, according to authorities. The driver of the vehicle, who was later identified as Peoples, had run a red light at an intersection. He then sped away after colliding with Hollowell at a “high rate of speed,” police said.
Witnesses told police that the driver barely braked after the crash before leaving the scene.
According to police and court records, Hollowell was thrown from his bike and landed in the middle of the intersection. He suffered head and other injuries and was taken in critical condition to a hospital, where he died, according to officials.
An attorney for Peoples didn’t respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Hollowell was struck near the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, where he was an employee. He had worked in the Smithsonian Institution’s Biological Diversity of the Guiana Shield program while also performing research on the ecology and conservation of mangroves in northwestern Guyana, according to Smithsonian officials.
He worked as a staff member at the museum in different roles for more than 20 years.
Most recently, Hollowell worked as a member of the museum’s informatics branch as a database manager within the Office of Information Technology. He had spent much of his career at the museum making data more available to researchers worldwide, museum officials said.
In a statement at the time of his death, museum officials said, “He was a valued member of our community, nearly always wearing a smile. We will miss him greatly.”
According to court documents, Peoples at first denied involvement in the hit-and-run, saying a friend had borrowed his car that day while he had taken an Uber to work.
Detectives later figured out from text messages Peoples sent to an unidentified person that he had hit someone with his car, according to court documents. He wrote, “I jus hit somebody bad . . . It’s glass all over me.”
Peoples is scheduled for a sentencing hearing in January.