- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 17, 2005

Emergency officials received nearly 350 reports of traffic accidents yesterday during a deadly morning commute that was caused by deceptively slick and icy streets.

“They were everywhere this morning,” said Sgt. C.J. Plaza, a Virginia State Police spokesman. “There were some pretty good crashes, vehicles overturning and stuff like that.”

He said the agency responded to about 75 accidents during the rush hour.

Three motorists died in Northern Virginia during the earliest and most harrowing stretch of the morning drive.

Shortly before 5 a.m. in Tysons Corner, a pickup truck on the Outer Loop of the Capital Beltway spun out and struck the front of a FedEx tractor-trailer, which then went over a concrete barrier and fell about 30 feet onto the side of a Dulles Toll Road on-ramp.

The driver, Phillip Dale Heusted, from Ruther Glen, Va., died at the scene.

The pickup truck driver — Terrance Lamont Fayson, 32, of Germantown — was not injured and was cited for reckless driving, Sgt. Plaza said.

In Manassas, a passenger in a car going east in the 9400 block of Wellington Road was killed at about 5:15 a.m. when the vehicle slid into oncoming traffic and hit another car.

Police identified the victim as Ivan Tovar-Delgado, 24, of Manassas. The driver, Roselia Reyes, was taken to a hospital with minor injuries. The driver of the other car was not injured.

In Manassas Park, a pickup truck going south on Route 28 near Compton Road slid across a median at about 5:40 a.m. and collided head-on with another pickup.

Police identified the driver of the northbound truck as Jaime Ortiz, 31, of Dale City, Va. A 47-year-old passenger was flown to an area hospital with life-threatening injuries.

The southbound driver — Froylan Pedro Ramirez-Ramirez, 24, of Manassas — left the scene but was found by police at Prince William Hospital. He was arrested on charges of hit-and-run and reckless driving.

The Fairfax County Police Department responded to 105 accident reports between 5 and 8 a.m. The Prince William County Police Department responded to 65 reports.

Most of the accidents were caused by the combination of subfreezing temperatures and precipitation from a winter storm Thursday night.

Officials said the accidents occurred despite road crews working all night.

“We had 70 trucks to monitor and treat the roads overnight,” said Joan Morris, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Transportation. “But we had these wildly fluctuating temperatures and a flash freeze. … Even if we had several hundred salt trucks out there, we would not have been able to prevent the rapid icing.”

The storm caused major problems across the South, including widespread accidents and power outages.

About 700,000 homes and businesses in that region were without power yesterday morning, including about 13,000 in Virginia. Most of the outages were caused by ice-laden tree limbs falling onto power lines. Utility companies said they would need days to fully restore power.

Montgomery County officials reported more than 100 emergency calls, many of them for accidents along Interstate 270.

Conditions were so treacherous that officials temporarily closed a stretch of Interstate 270 from Clarksburg to the Frederick County line.

The most serious accident in Montgomery County occurred at about 10:40 a.m., when a tractor-trailer from Pennsylvania carrying large rolls of paper collided with a Montgomery County Ride On bus and a construction company van at Ridge and Brink roads in Germantown.

The drivers of the bus and van were flown to area hospitals with life-threatening injuries, Montgomery County police said. Three passengers in the van also were taken to area hospitals with injuries described as not life-threatening. The driver of the tractor-trailer was not hurt, police said.

There were no passengers on the bus at the time of the accident, which officials continue to investigate. Montgomery County fire department spokesman Pete Piringer said witnesses said the accident was not caused by icy road conditions and that the tractor-trailer turned in front of the van, starting the chain-reaction collision.

Mr. Piringer said two firetrucks and a fire recruit were struck by vehicles that slipped on icy roads as they tried to assist motorists involved in other accidents. The recruit was not seriously injured, he said.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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