- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 24, 2005

D.C. fire officials yesterday placed on “routine administrative leave” a deputy chief who hit a child in a crosswalk nine days ago and left before police investigated the accident.

In addition, the department-owned vehicle driven by Deputy Chief Beatrice Rudder during the March 15 accident was taken to the 1st Police District headquarters for investigation, fire department sources told The Washington Times.

“Chief Rudder has been placed on routine administrative leave, effective through March 27,” Fire Chief Adrian H. Thompson said yesterday. “Upon her return, she will be assigned to another division within the department while the standard administrative hearing process is completed.”

The hearing process ensures a “full and fair review of the facts,” Chief Thompson said.

The Times reported Tuesday that Chief Rudder was driving a Ford Excursion when she struck an 11-year-old boy in a crosswalk in the 900 block of G Street NE at about 3:35 p.m. on March 15. She left before police investigated the accident, according to a police report and fire officials.

The boy, who suffered minor injuries, was transported to Children’s Hospital, where he was admitted overnight for observation.

Chief Rudder, who works out of Engine Co. 2 in Northwest, has not returned four calls seeking comment since Friday and hung up on a reporter when reached yesterday.

Chief Rudder, 51, joined the department in 1978 and was the first woman to complete firefighter training in the District. She was one of three finalists for the fire chief’s job in 2002, after Chief Ronnie Few resigned.

A fire department spokesman would not say why Chief Rudder was not placed on leave earlier. Firefighters follow a one-day-on, three-day-off schedule, which meant that Chief Rudder’s first shift after the accident was Saturday.

Ed Reiskin, deputy mayor for public safety and justice, said an investigation was under way. Officials are trying to find out whether Chief Rudder requested that Metropolitan Police respond to the accident scene, as required by fire department protocols.

“Both police and fire are investigating,” Mr. Reiskin said. “The Office of Unified Communications has submitted all the data to both agencies, and they are both reviewing them.”

D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson, who heads the Committee on the Judiciary, said Tuesday that he plans to raise the issue at the fire department’s April 12 oversight hearing.

A police spokesman said yesterday that he was unaware of whether any charges are pending.

Fire officials said that several hours after the accident Chief Rudder went to a police station to see whether a report had been filed. When she learned there was no police report, she filed one at the 5th Police District headquarters.

The accident occurred in the 1st Police District.

The boy’s father, Ron Kenney, told The Times that no one contacted him or his family about a police report. He was unable to find the report at the 1st Police District headquarters when he requested it so he could be reimbursed for his son’s medical expenses.

The police report indicates that an investigation into the accident was pending, but it incorrectly states that the accident occurred in the 5th District. The report had not been transferred to the 1st District as of Friday. It was found Monday in the 5th District, six days after the accident occurred.

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