- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 2, 2006

A Marriott International executive was killed and traffic was delayed for much of yesterday after a tractor-trailer overturned on a Capital Beltway overpass in Bethesda and dumped its payload of lumber onto an Interstate 270 spur.

The accident occurred before 8:45 a.m. on the Beltway’s Outer Loop when the tractor-trailer driver veered off the big curve west of Old Georgetown Road, then lost control while trying to re-enter traffic, investigators said.

Douglas M. Ely, 47, of Northwest, died when his 1998 BMW was hit by the prefabricated fencing lumber that cascaded about 50 feet over a concrete wall on the right side of the Beltway and onto the interstate.

Investigators originally said Mr. Ely likely died immediately, but later said the falling lumber caused him to lose control of the car, which was hit on the driver’s side by a 1996 Nissan Altima. The investigation continues.

The driver of the Nissan was injured seriously and taken by state police helicopter to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda. She was identified as Gloria Y. Weigand, of Centreville, Va.

Two other women, one of which was trapped inside a sport utility vehicle, were taken to nearby hospitals with injuries not considered life-threatening. Police have not released their names.

The driver of the 2005 Kenworth tractor-trailer was not injured and has been identified as Francois Veilleux, 33, of Quebec City, Maryland State Police Sgt. Russell Newell said.

The Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office has charged Mr. Veilleux with negligent driving and violating rules requiring rest after driving for a certain number of hours. Each violation carries a $280 fine.

The vehicle belonged to the family-owned Veilleux Transit company.

The accident scene was cleared, and all lanes were reopened before the evening rush hour, Sgt. Thornnie Rouse said. This morning’s commute was not expected to be affected.

This is not the first time that an accident has occurred along that section of road, according to WRC-TV (Channel 4).

In March 1993, a tractor-trailer carrying detergent crashed there, and four tractor-trailers were involved in a accident five months later. In April 1996, a tractor-trailer hauling lumber was involved in an accident there, according to the television station.

The tractor-trailer yesterday was going west on the Beltway, traveling from Quebec City to Norfolk.

The lumber also fell onto a tractor-trailer going south on the spur and several other vehicles, including some that crashed into each other while trying to avoid the accidents and debris.

Mr. Ely was going northbound on the interstate spur. He lived on University Terrace, near American University, with his wife and two daughters. He was a vice president and assistant general counsel for Marriott.

“Everyone’s just in this state of real sadness for his family and his kids,” company spokeswoman Charlotte Sterling said. “He’s just a really well-loved and respected executive here.”

Emergency crews — including state police troopers and about 40 Montgomery County police and fire rescue personnel — immediately responded to the accident near River and Old Georgetown roads to help remove drivers and passengers trapped inside vehicles.

State police closed the Outer Loop and northbound I-270 lanes. Other traffic lanes were slowed to a crawl.

The backups lasted for about six hours and stretched about seven miles, as far west as Tysons Corner and as far east as Silver Spring.

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