Flowers for Pedestrian Killed, Julia Bachleitner, Outside Keren Restaurant

Photo by PoPville flickr user tomlalley111

“Dear PoP,

I bike past the site of the crash every day on my commute to work and noticed that there were flowers in front of the Keren restaurant and a sign in memory of Julia Bachleitner who died yesterday. The artsy picture had also been ripped apart. I spoke briefly to the owner who was sitting outside the restaurant. He said he would rebuild with the insurance money and reopen. I could tell that he was saddened to be a part of this situation. He spoke mostly of the women who were hit.”

From MPD:

“The Metropolitan Police Department announces that one of the pedestrians from the auto crash, which occurred in Adams Morgan on Wednesday, September 8, 2010, has died. The victim is identified as 26 year-old Julia Bachleitner of Austria.

On Wednesday, September 8, 2010, at approximately 8:30 pm, a vehicle heading south on 18th Street Northwest, was attempting to turn east on Florida Avenue, Northwest, when it drove onto a traffic island and struck two pedestrians who were standing on the island waiting to cross.The vehicle continued across Florida Avenue, Northwest, and crashed into the front of a restaurant.

The two severely injured pedestrians were taken to local hospitals and the operator of that vehicle was arrested and charged with Aggravated Assault and Driving While Intoxicated.”

Photo by PoPville flickr user tomlalley111

31 Comment

  • This is very sad. I believe this intersection was supposed to be re-designed with the 18th street project. I walked through this intersection last night and it was a little unnerving knowing how unprotected pedestrians are. Is their somewhere to file a complaint regarding this?

  • The charges against the driver are about to become vehicular manslaughter. Sad, sad story.

  • Very, very sad. I hope they throw the book at the driver.

  • This is so profoundly sad.

    Can you imagine arriving in a foreign country and almost immediately becoming the victim of such a horrific accident? My thoughts go out to those poor students, and to Julie’s family.

    I second Matt in saying how scary that intersection (and the 15th and Florida intersection at the bottom of meridian hill park) are (and I seem to recall a story about a biker being fatally involved in an accident there too). Even as a driver I occasionally get confused at each intersection, and as a pedestrian I wait for however long it takes for the light to change for me. Most importantly, cheap booze does not give one license to drive drunk and kill innocent people.

  • I used to live on the corner and walked to work. While the entire intersection is scary, the worst part is crossing U street from North to South. Because cars come speeding down Florida from the West to make the light and don’t even look to see if peds are in the crosswalk when they are turning “right” onto U. Most drivers don’t realize that this is a turn and the peds have a walk signal. I have been almost hit there many times.

    At the end of the day, this incident could have been avoided if the driver hadn’t been driving while impaired. I hope she gets many, many, many years in prison for this.

    • I’ve driven through that intersection dozens of times, and until this post, I had no idea that going east from Florida onto U was considered a “right turn”.

      I did notice that pedestrians sometimes crossed U at the same time I was gunning it from Florida east across 18th street, but I just chalked it up to jaywalking. The very short light for eastbound Florida gets drivers in a road-ragey frame of mind to start with, since only 4-5 cars can get through during the green cycle.

      Putting an unexpected pedestrian crossing immediately in the path of that amped-up Florida traffic is just a terrible, terrible invitation to tragedy.

  • Did you ask the owner if it was his idea to put the car graffiti up? Or if it wasn’t, did he approve of the graffiti?

  • The driver could have cause an incident at any intersection on her route. Because it is such a dangerous and confusing intersection, it happened there.

  • Is that the most severe they can levy against her?

    • You have to wait till after the victim dies to charge someone with murder/manslaughter. It’s probably just referring to the charges the driver was booked under.

  • The 14th and Park intersection is also damned confusing/dangerous for pedestrians.

    • I still see idiots driving westbound cross over the double yellow line into incoming traffic in order to go straight onto kenyon street. how does that seem like a good idea to them?

    • I’ll second that. They spent all this time and money tearing up the area with construction, and the intersection is still a major fustercluck.

    • glad to see that i’m not the only person who thought this.

  • This situation is terrible and sad… no doubt! But again I cannot emphasis as a daily commuter in and out of the city by car how many pedestrians I notice walking in there own little world thinking they are invisible to accidents simply because they are not in a car. Every day I see people with there ear buds in, staring at there phones either texting or browsing the net, in the crosswalks walking at a snails pace like nothing is going on around them.

    Two years ago I was t-boned at 15th & S, I ended up on the sidewalk… had the person waiting to cross the street not jumped back, he would have been under my car… fortunately for him he saw the whole thing happened and was able to jump back… had he been on his phone, iPod or kindle, (like I see also) he would have been injured if not killed.

    The driver will be punished and carry this guilt forever.

    • Your points are valid, though only tangential to this post.

      There is nothing to suggest that this accident was caused or could have been avoided by better pedestrian awareness (or a less confusing intersection, for that matter.)

      This seems to be a clear case of an out of control drunk driver who took a life (and nearly two) and caused serious property damage. Very very sad.

      But yes, if everyone pays attention, drives and walks where and when they would be expected to do so, and stays in control then we’d all have a better chance at getting where we’re going safely.

    • The girl died on a sidewalk…

    • The way the walk lights work at this intersection, you have to stand on that traffic island. There are two separate walk lights. One to get across Florida and another to get across the turn lane from 18th onto U. So the comments about waiting for the light to cross and not paying attention are completely irrelevant. No way they would have had time to react. I used to live near there and spent much time standing where they were hit, many times with a dog and/or a baby. So don’t blame the Austrian, blame the drunk.

    • I had a close call in a parking lot a few weeks ago. Normally I’m paying attention to my surroundings, but I was a little spaced out, and I could tell by the driver’s reaction that she hadn’t been paying close attention either. I do think that’s normally how pedestrian accidents happen– both parties are distracted and don’t react in time.

      However, there are situations where either the pedestrian or driver does something so reckless that the accident could not have been avoided. It sounds like that was the case with the driver here.

    • Julia and her friend weren’t on iPods etc. but I absolutely agree with you that pedestrians are very reckless. Fortunately I’m an alert driver–but I see so many people just cluelessly walk into traffic.

  • RIP Julia. This is terrible and I hope the driver receives the appropriate level of justice for her immature and reckless actions. Very very sad…

  • Does anyone know what the driver’s breathalyzer was?

  • they should replace that torn up car print with a big poster of the drivers mug shot. the bitch is guilty, lets shame the hell out of her.

    • No, she’s not guilty until a jury agrees she is. Right now she’s accused of some serious crimes and has the right to a fair trial.

    • I agree. I think we are safe on calling this one…of course she will get a fair trial, and more than likely a clever lawyer will get her sentence reduced to time served or get her off completely on a technicality.

      Let’s hope the arresting officers sealed their paperwork up tight as a drum and crossed every ‘T’ and dotted every lower case “J”.

    • typical male

  • breathalyzer was .18

    • That’s correct– but she was a small female, so only about 3 drinks, maybe fewer if the bartender was pouring them strong. It’s sad that 2-3 drinks can cause two lives to be lost.

  • This story gives me chills down my spine. I recently moved to DC, live just north of here on Belmont, and my wife is 28 and Swiss. That could have very easily been her.

    Terrible tragedy.

  • The girl was standing on a sidewalk around 8:30pm in the evening. Chatting to friends, heading back home after dinner. The drunk driver drove through the pedestrian sidewalk, hitting the girls and smashing into a restaurant with a full impetus. When taken out of the car the female driver fought with the police, not wanting to give in. She was so drunk she was not able to stand on her own.

    She was, however, able to kill.. Julia died surrounded by her parents and a twin sister that immediately flew in from Austria.

    No trial will bring her back. But having decided to get into the car in such state, the driver imposed a death penalty onto Julia. There are no mitigating circumstances.

  • Note the driver is facing minimal charges of involuntary manslaughter, which unless they are upgraded (unlikely) IMHO won’t result in any meaningful prison time. This is a textbook example of our lax laws and why we have such a criminal cesspool in much of the city.

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