It was a deadly year on Loudoun’s highways. With a week remaining in 2017, 21 people had been killed in 18 fatal crashes.
That was the highest single-year total in more than a decade and sparked a push for safety improvements and stepped-up enforcement efforts.
Evergreen Mills Road, a heavily traveled two-lane rural road between Leesburg and Arcola, proved to be the most dangerous route this year.
The first crash in Arcola on Jan. 22 involved a speeding driver allegedly trying to avoid a traffic stop by a pursuing deputy when he slammed into a tree. The driver, David G. Brown, 25, of Ashburn, crawled out through the broken windshield, but two passengers did not escape as the BMW burst into flames. Brown in November pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and faces a prison term when he is sentenced in February.
The second fatal crash in the corridor happened in July when the bodies of Courtney Ashe, 27, and two children were found inside a car that had flipped over into a creek south of Leesburg. The three had been missing for several days, after leaving a family residence in Ashburn in route to another family home in Leesburg. It appeared the driver lost control of the car during a heavy rain storm, hit an embankment, and flipped off the road.
Another family tragedy happened on the road Sept. 8 when the driver of a food truck on Watson Road ran a stop sign and slammed into the side of a car on Evergreen Mills Road. Erin T. Kaplan, 39, of Ashburn, was killed and her mother and three children were injured. The crash spurred an outpouring of community support for the Kaplan family—more than $140,000 was donated through a GoFundMe campaign—and calls for something more to be done to improve safety on the road.
In November, the food truck driver, Tony Steven Dane, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless driving, driving without an operator’s license (repeat offense), driving without insurance, and failure to get the vehicle inspected. Meanwhile, the Virginia Department of Transportation, Sheriff’s Office and the county Board of Supervisors devoted more resources to make spot safety improvements in the corridor and to step up speeding enforcement, as well as to commission a detailed study of potential safety measures.
There also were three fatal crashes on Rt. 15 during the year.
The first happened north of Leesburg Jan. 3 when a 38-year-old Brunswick, MD, woman in a northbound Kia was hit head-on by a Jeep Cherokee after the driver apparently fell asleep. Nathaniel W. Nelson, 26, of Charlottesville, pleaded guilty to reckless driving and was sentenced to one year of probation and fined $1,500.
On March 22, another head-on crash happened on the two-lane stretch of Rt. 15 north of Leesburg. A Ford F-150 pickup crossed the center line of the road south of the Montresor Road intersection and collided into a northbound Subaru Impreza, killing the driver of the Subaru, 28-year-old Michael A. Larrick.
The third fatal Rt. 15 crash happened near the Gilbert’s Corner intersection with Rt. 50 on April 13. A Ford Explorer was traveling north on Rt. 15 when the driver lost control and overcorrected, causing the SUV to overturn. The driver, Aaron S. Burdick, 35, of Berryville, died at the scene.
There were two fatal crashes on Rt. 9. On Oct. 13, a driver was killed when he was attempting to pass a tractor trailer in a no-passing zone east of Hillsboro, and struck an oncoming car.
On Nov. 14, a head-on crash west of Hillsboro killed a 49-year-old Gainesville woman after her car went off the side of the road and then she overcorrected into the path of the oncoming pickup.
Two fatal crashes resulted in drunken driving-related charges. On Feb. 21, a Jeep Wrangler traveling northbound on Rt. 28 near Dulles Airport hit a concrete traffic barrier and two passengers were thrown from the vehicle. One died. Andre M. Glenn, 26, of Sterling, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, DUI, and driving on a suspended license. A trial is scheduled in July. On Dec. 2, Julio A. Rivera, 39, of Herndon, lost control of a 1997 Dodge Ram and struck a parked car and then struck a townhouse on Colonial Avenue in Sterling. A passenger died from injuries sustained in the crash. Rivera has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, DUI, and driving on a suspended license.
There were two fatal motorcycle crashes during the year.
Craig D. Morrison, 44, of Purcellville, died March 25 after he crashed his 2014 Harley Davidson on Silcott Springs Road south of Purcellville. The second happened April 6 on Harpers Ferry Road north of Hillsboro near Kidwell Road where the driver was found dead in a field.
There was only one pedestrian fatality during 2017. That happened shortly after 1:30 a.m. Nov. 18 when a Prince William County man was struck and killed on Sycolin Road south of Leesburg.