When Parents Drag Their Children to Their Doom: Speeding over 100 MPH in a Crowded 35 MPH Work Zone Brings Death

Posted on June 11, 2012


We live in the DC area, a certifiably insane place, and not just because of the politicians.  This area is consistently rated as one of the worst cities in the US for traffic.  My radio is constantly tuned to a station which provides traffic reports, because it is a given that there is probably an accident somewhere along any route that you may be driving at any time.  Now, I would expect accidents to be a byproduct of the crowds we have on the roads around here.  But I am still quite shocked by the sheer madness I see and hear about on the roads, which inevitably leads to some horrific – and completely avoidable – accidents.   It is amazingly common, when listening to the traffic reports, to hear, “Vehicle overturned on… ”  I once saw an SUV with trailer-mounted boat still connected, the whole assemblage lying on its side across three lanes of traffic on I-395.  How do people do this stuff?  Well, drive around here long enough, and you get a hint:  you see people passing on double yellow lines on curvy, hilly roads.  You see people fly across multiple lanes of traffic without signaling.  There are those who plod along well under the speed limit in the passing lanes, and those who weave through traffic, inches off other drivers’ bumpers.  Red-light running is rampant.  And then there are the speeders.  And not your average, run-of-the-mill, 10-MPH-over-the-limit types, either.

The latest was a 27-year-old mother who managed to kill herself and her two daughters, ages 7 and 5, while speeding erratically through a construction zone at 11 PM.  When I say speeding, that is a vast understatement:  I know this road, and the normal speed limit is 35 MPH.  The woman’s speed was estimated at over 100 MPH, so obscene that multiple drivers and VDOT workers had already called to report her – and this, in an area where no one really cares much about speeding.  The road there is lined with shopping centers, gas stations, restaurants, apartment complexes.  There are four lights and a total of seven intersections just in the last mile she ever drove in her life, which would have taken her all of about 36 seconds.

What happened next was totally predictable: she sideswiped one car, then continued on to t-bone a van in an intersection, and her car burst into flames.  VDOT workers said pieces of the car flew and skidded nearly a half-mile from the scene.  Did I mention the seven intersections in the last mile she ever drove in her life?  The van driver is still clinging to life, and I hope the best for his recovery (he was probably only saved because she struck the passenger side of the van; looking at the accident photo, it seems a miracle he survived).  I am sorry for the two children whose mother’s choice ensured that they will never even see third grade.  I am not sorry for the driver, who had a history of reckless driving and speeding, as well as driving on a suspended license.

No one will ever know what was so damned important that this mother of two had to careen through this busy area at such tremendous speed, but whatever it was, it is of no import now.  Dead people have no schedules to keep, no tasks to fulfill.  I just wish that all the other drivers around here might learn from this and reconsider their own driving choices.  Sadly, I know from experience that that’s not going to happen.  Everybody in this town has somewhere important to be, something important going on.  Until they don’t anymore.