Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wolf's Bus crash I-270

Wolf's Bus crash I-270
Originally uploaded by kryan1035
This was the scene coming up to the site of a bus crash on I-270. One of the most unusual crashes I have ever covered: the 26 passenger commercial bus, from Wolf's Bus Lines of York Springs, PA crashed through the guardrail of the NB HOV lanes on I-270 flyover, rolled, traveling down a 45-ft embankment, came to rest--upright--on jersey barrier. 12 were on board including driver. Driver Joseph A. Clabaugh, of Hanover PA was killed, but all others survived. Passengers were parents and children: the kids from Carlisle PA were home-schooled and this was their field trip to DC.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

MOCO Police ID Hit-Run Victim in Silver Spring

Here's the press release from Montgomery County Police:

Detectives from the Montgomery County Police Collision Reconstruction Unit (CRU) are continuing to investigate a serious pedestrian hit-and-run collision that occurred in the Piney Branch area of Silver Spring.

The pedestrian has been identified as Danny Elizabeth Alay-Mateo, age 22, of the 9100 block of September Lane in Silver Spring. She remains hospitalized with life-threatening injuries.

The description of the vehicle has been modified to a 1994 -1998 GMC Jimmy, Chevy S-10 pick-up truck, Chevy Blazer, or Oldsmobile Bravada. The vehicle will most likely have damage to the right front headlight, possibly dents in the hood, and cracks in the glass windshield. The damage may be slight. The right side exterior mirror was located at the scene and the plastic housing compartment, of the exterior mirror, is believed to still be attached to the vehicle.

On Saturday, September 25 at approximately 8:13 p.m., 3rd District officers and Fire/Rescue personnel responded to the 8700 block of Carroll Avenue, near Piney Branch Road, for the report of a pedestrian struck.

The preliminary investigation determined that for unknown reasons, Alay Mateo was in the northbound portion of the roadway of the 8700 block of Carroll Avenue. For reasons still under investigation, a dark colored vehicle struck her and failed to stop and remain at the scene. She suffered significant injuries and was transported to an area trauma center.

Investigators believe that there are members of the community who know more details about this collision and they are urged to call in. Please contact the Collision Reconstruction Unit at 301-840-2435.

Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). Crime Solvers will pay a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information provided to them that leads to an arrest and/or indictment for this felony crime.

Monday, September 27, 2010

CaBi: My Test Ride

They're red, they're shiny, and they're just as cute as can be. The Capital Bikeshare bikes are parked in my neighborhood and despite the fact that I own what I jokingly call a 'wardrobe' of bikes, I've been eager to take one out for a spin. 

Sunday night, I got my chance. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pedestrian Hit and Run: Montgomery County Investigating..

Saturday night, a 24 year old woman was struck by a car in Silver Spring. Montgomery County Police issued the following release: approximately 8:13 p.m., 3rd District officers and Fire/Rescue personnel responded to the 8700 block of Carroll Avenue, near Piney Branch Road, for the report of a pedestrian struck. 
The preliminary investigation determined that a 24-year-old woman was walking in the northbound portion of the roadway of the 8700 block of Carroll Avenue.  For reasons still under investigation, a small, dark colored passenger vehicle, possibly a Honda, struck the woman and failed to stop and remain on the scene.  The woman suffered significant injuries and was transported to an area trauma center when she remains in serious condition. 
The vehicle was damaged in the collision and the right side exterior mirror was located at the scene.  Additionally, the vehicle may have damage to the right headlight, the right side of the hood, and the right side of the windshield.
Anyone who may have information about this collision is asked to contact the Collision Reconstruction Unit at 301-840-2435.  Callers may remain anonymous. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

WABA's 50 States Ride...

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association's 13 Colonies and 50 States tour went off today.

No, I didn't take part. I was dutifully doing household chores--because sometimes I'm not smart enough to dump the chores and get out and play.

But one bright spot among the checkbook-balancing and dusting? Watching the riders passing by my home. It was fun to cheer them on from my window. I hope they got a charge out of it: I know I did. Maybe next year I leave the housework for a day...

Congrats to all those who got out for a challenging ride!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friends and Family Hold Vigil for Cyclist Killed on Rt 202


If you haven't seen Natasha Pettigrew's campaign website, take a look. Not for the political content, but for how it gives a flavor of who the woman behind the headlines was. 

Here's what Natasha Pettigrew wrote on the "Personal" section of her site:

"During my free time I enjoy swimming, biking, and running.  I was never happier than when I found out about triathlon, which puts all three sports together at once as a sporting event.  When I am not training for a triathlon, I enjoy knitting and crocheting blankets to give to those who need them, and I enjoy reading.  When our schedules allow, I spend as much time as I can with my friends.  However, law school sometimes makes that difficult.  My greatest joy is spending time with Bill.  No matter how stressful a day gets, his wagging tail and pure joy about everything in life make me smile."

Bill wasn't your average, ordinary hound. According to her site, Bill was the family's 11-year old, 3-legged Chocolate Lab. 

Dozens turned out to honor the memory of Natasha Pettigrew. I was still finishing work on a variety of assignments and weekenders for WTOP, so was unable to get out and cover it. But you can see info on the WTOP website. 

Family friend John Clendenin tells WTOP that the vigil will be held off Rt 202 in Largo, not far from the crash scene, but I'm working to pin down a bit more in the way of precise location/ direction. The vigil will start at 6pm.

Reporting on this now for WTOP, will file more here later. The vigil for Natasha Pettigrew, the cyclist and Green Party candidate for US Senate, will be ON the property of the Prince George's County Community College, not far from the crash scene were 30 year-old Natasha Pettigrew was killed. Details to follow.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bikes and Cars: We May Struggle to Share the Road...

But after talking with Shane Farthing of WABA and John Townsend of AAA Mid-Atlantic, I learn that both agree: Maryland's vehicular manslaughter laws are in need of an overhaul.

Natasha Pettigrew's death is still under investigation: as is the death of cyclist Stanton Miller of Montgomery County. But the cases have both Farthing and Townsend talking about the need to focus on the obligation that drivers have on the roadways. AAA Mid-Atlantic was right there with Prince George's County State's Attorney Glen Ivey in Annapolis back in March: fighting to change the laws that allow drivers to --in the words of Ivey--"walk, even drive away" from a fatal crash with nothing more than a traffic ticket.

You can hear the pieces on WTOP at 103.5 fm.

And I'm just thinking:

Who hasn't heard from police that 'Driving is not a right, it's a privilege."? Yet don't we all act as though it's our right? I mean after all, a car is the thing that can empower us to travel as far as we want whenever we want. I know as a young reporter working at suburban  and rural stations my reality was: no car--no job. It was a lifeline to my livelihood. A car allowed me to work crazy shifts and head to out of the way destinations at a moment's notice.   For many people, including former teaching colleagues in Montgomery County, the car was the only way home: to affordable housing in Frederick or Washington Counties. Or even to homes in Pennsylvania.

Every driver I know will cite the examples they see of cyclists who zip between cars, blow through stop lights, or stop signs, or generally treat traffic laws as things that apply only when convenient. I've been frustrated myself when a pedestrian darts out into traffic outside of a crosswalk, or a cyclist who decicdes to thread the needle in gridlocked traffic. But what of  the drivers who drink and drive, who text and drive, who speed, who travel in the shoulder or  make the decision that make their attitudes clear: the laws apply--but not to me, not at this moment?

So I ask: how willing are we to admit our own transportation transgressions? And how willing are we, as a friend of Natasha Pettigrew's family says "to treat life as though it really is precious"?  At what point do we look at that motorist next to us, that cyclist in the bike lane, that pedestrian approaching the crosswalk, as someone's child, wife, husband, parent? Can we give each other a break?

I'm a reporter. I don't have the answers.  I'm just asking.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Capital BikeShare on a roll..

Here's what was posted on the WTOP website yesterday..and I'm posting a bunch of photos now, well, just because.

I didn't get a chance to take one out for a spin, I had a tight deadline, but I'm eager to see what these things feel like, and what residents think about them. I got an email from a WTOP listener who suggested that given crime, this idea could never work in the US. I called Jim Sebastian at DDOT who told me in the two years they were operating the SmartBike program, they lost 2 bikes out of a fleet of 100 to theft.

Bikes ready to roll...

Waiting for the biking to begin...

From left: DDOT Director Gabe Klein, USDOT Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy Polly Trottenberg, and DC Mayor Adrian Fenty

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Saddle Up for a Bike Rodeo...

Fairfax County Police and Trails for Youth are teaming up to help your child develop safe biking skills at a Bike Rodeo on September 25th. The event starts at 9am at Clermont Elementary School at 5720 Clermont Drive, Alexandria.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Capital BikeShare Set to Roll Into Town

Capital BikeShare, the pick-up-drop-off bike network that will provide a way to get around town*, gets ready to roll, literally, on Monday.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Off the Bike, In the News

Bikes are not my beat, everything is. So there are times I fall off the bike...this week has been one of those times.

The week was crammed with news...including the hostage-taking at the Discovery Communications building in downtown Silver Spring. As someone who's been at this business of covering news for a good long time, covering a breaking event like this has a certain familiarity. Racing to a scene, trying to keep out of the way of police while gathering news, but making sure you get the story, balancing the desire to report all that you see with the concern that the person at the center of the barricade or hostage taking may be watching or listening and therefore influenced by those same reports, and more. All of this while making sure your equipment is working, that you don't lose your tiny bit of real estate before the microphones (we reporters get up close and personal with each other while jockeying for space before the microphones) and making sure you don't blow a deadline for a live feed.

As a reporter, it's not my job to be a cheerleader, as a matter of fact, should you ever catch me in that mode, you'd have to wonder if the watchdog had its teeth removed. But I must say I was impressed by the challenge the police and fire marshal's office faced  and the response to that challenge.

If you heard the WTOP broadcasts live, or the WTOP reports on the release of the 9-1-1 tapes on Friday, you probably share my appreciation for how tense and difficult that job was. Police and first responders had conflicting reports, and little information to go on, and they had nearly two-thousand people to get out of a building in the middle of a downtown with a Metro stop nearby. They didn't know if James Lee was alone. They didn't know exactly what he had with him. And they had very little time to piece things together and try to bring this to a close safely.

Friends and family asked me about my day, how stressful it must have been, how scary. I have to say the stress was felt by the people inside that building facing a life-and-death situation--the hostages. And stress was felt by the people outside the building responsible for trying to keep the public safe. Know how hard it is to get a group of people to agree on something as basic as what kind of pizza to order for lunch? Imagine the challenge of having to coordinate first responders from state, local and federal agencies (police, fire, ATF, FBI, transit agencies) in the middle of a downtown at a major transportation hub.

Also evident: the care and concern that ordinary citizens had for others as they helped each other out of the building, handed cell phones back and forth, called 9-1-1, trying to get police as much information as possible. Many of the 9-1-1 callers displayed real calm in a scary and rapidly unfolding situation. And the 9-1-1 operators juggled those calls, sifting through information, working to make sense of the sometimes scrambled calls. Daycare operators made sure the children in their care were kept safe and calm as they hustled out of the building. And the nearby businesses opened their doors to people struggling to contact and reassure each other.

As a reporter, sometimes you see the best of people in the worst of situations. I hope that's a part of the story that stays with our listeners and web followers. There are people among us who race towards a problem to solve it so the rest of us can be safe. And they do it with the hope that everyone gets to go home to their loved ones.  I am grateful to have been a witness to those efforts.