Cyclist Struck and Killed by Hit and Run Driver in Shaw


A reader reports:

“We didn’t see it happen but we heard tire squeals and screams and saw them load the victim’s body in the ambulance. Not 100% on the happenings but from what we were told by police a bicyclist was killed by a hit and run driver last night at the intersection of 8 and s st nw at 2:20am.”

Update from MPD:

“Detectives from the Metropolitan Police Department’s Major Crash Unit are investigating a hit and run that resulted in a traffic fatality which occurred at the intersection of 8th and S Streets, NW.

On Saturday, September 20, 2014, at approximately 2:33 am, a bicyclist was on 8th Street, NW when she was struck by a light colored SUV that was traveling southbound on 8th Street, NW. DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services personnel transported the victim to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead. The striking vehicle was last seen fleeing southbound on 8th Street towards Rhode Island Avenue, NW. The SUV may have damage to the right front bumper.

The decedent has been identified as 53 year-old Tonya Reaves of Northeast, Washington, DC.

This crash is currently under investigation.

The Metropolitan Police Department is asking anyone with information about this case to call the police at (202) 727-9099. Additionally, anonymous information may be submitted to the department’s TEXT TIP LINE by text messaging 50411.”

76 Comment

  • has there been an uptick in hit and run accidents involving bikers? It seems like someone is hit almost every week and the drive speeds off…scary. Makes me not want to bike around late at night to say the least. Hopefully they find that driver.

  • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: DC motorists are absolutely out of control. They behave like race car drivers, which is ironic, considering the number of motorists here complaining about the dirt bike riders.

    There’s absolutely no reason why the speed limit in the heart of Shaw/Logan Circle should be any higher than 20 mph — and that should be strictly enforced.

    20 mph is the speed limit in ALL of the very-urban City of London, all of Southwark. In New York, 25 mph is the new speed limit, which while not as good as 20 mph, is still a big improvement.

    Twenty is plenty!

    • I am considering starting a group to campaign for “20 is Plenty” on DC’s urban streets. Would anyone else be interested?

      • Definitely interested in starting/participating in a 20 is Plenty campaign for DC. Where do we begin?

        • I don’t want to post links in case the comment can’t get posted, but Google it: great success in the UK where the campaign started. Also, visit the StreetFilms Web site for some great videos on the concept. It’s really silly that anyone should need to go any faster than 20 through the narrow streets of Shaw.

        • this would be a disaster for busses

      • Absolutely not. A 20 MPH limit is absurd.

        Perhaps better to start a “no biking in the dark at 2:30 AM” movement.

        • As a biker, I absolutely agree.

        • How is this absurd? The new speed limit in New York City is 25 mph. The speed limit in all of the city of London — the square mile — is 20 mph. Are New York and London “absurd”?

          • I think using London as an example is problematic. London is notorious for speeding downtown and lots of pedestrian/cyclist deaths. I understand the low speed limit is a response to that, but let’s not hold up London as a shining example here. People speed there all the time.

            Also, if the person hit and run at that hour, chances are they were drinking. If they were drinking at driving, do you really think they care about a speed limit?

          • The square mile is hardly a significant portion of the urban part of London. It’s like saying they enacted that speed limit in Wall Street in NYC and that’s it.

          • If you’re talking about the City of London with a capital C — basically, the financial district of London — I’m not surprised that the speed limit is 20 mph. My recollection is that the roads are twisty and somewhat narrow, as it’s is the core of London and has been around since medieval times (even if much of it burned in multiple fires).
            And for what it’s worth, the UK has REALLY strict laws regarding drunken driving. My impression has been that if you get caught there drinking and driving, you’ll probably lose your license permanently.

        • That’s a four way stop. How the F does a car kill someone there? The person must have just blown the stop sign as if it didn’t exist.

        • How do you want someone to get home from work (at a bar, restaurant, babysitting, whatever)? Buses don’t run 24 hours and sometimes a bike is easier. Why should bikes be banned at certain times of day? It looks from the picture like she was in a crosswalk, at an intersection with a 4-way stop. Do you also want to ban pedestrians at night?

        • clevelanddave

          +1 What in the world makes you think that the person in the minivan was going the posted speed limit- or would have if it were 20 mph? What makes you think the biker was obeying the law? Of course cyclists have every right to bike at 2:20 in the AM but do you think they had some kind of light/helmet? So lets punish everyone for the acts of a few fools. Bad idea.

      • Great idea, run this through the regional street smart campaign.

      • I don’t disagree.

    • We were walking in this area a little earlier in the evening and the speeding was out of control. Many of the plates were MD, though, so maybe better to say “motorists driving in DC are out of control.” Not to mention the drunk driving in this area.

  • my girlfriend was one of the people who called 911. she said she saw a white truck speed off (not sure where or what kind of truck). she said stayed there with the woman and said it didnt look good. that is frightening

    • That must have been so hard for your girlfriend to witness, but I bet the cyclist was comforted to have someone with her.

    • Was a white escalade with spinners and MD tags? If so, I think the MPD should just pull their own records for a certain driver who had a long list of offenses, including assault against a cyclist.

  • Sadly the police are reporting that it was a fatal crash for the cyclist. Awful.

  • That is heartbreaking. I am all for a ’20 is plenty’. It seems in all the comments (on other Popville postings) on bikers vs. cars, cars vs. bikers, pedestrians vs. cars AND bikers, that at the end of the day, cars are the most lethal in the ongoing ‘battle’ and even if bikers or pedestrians aren’t acting responsibly, maybe forcing drivers to slow down enough to be able to respond defensively in any situation helps everyone regardless. Besides, driving anywhere in the District is already a slow road…

    • I would be in favor of 20 is Plenty if there were at least a few 35 mph expessways for cars, that didnt require stopping for a light every 2 blocks. Some of the uptick in road rage is because drivers have no efficient options, and driving on residential steets becomes an attractive option.

      • Wow — so drivers have a right to be angry and kill people? When everyone goes 20, traffic can actually move faster, because, as you say, people will always have to stop at lights and stop signs.

    • Does the person who struck this cyclist strike you as someone rational and law abiding? Chances are they were breaking the current speed limit. Do you really think lowering it would slow them down?

      • Yeah, it might. Lowering the collective speed limit on the street can influence people to move slower through the city in general, even if there are no other cars on the road. Also, the “why make laws if criminals won’t follow them” argument is severely flawed.

    • clevelanddave

      Not a shock that cars harm cyclists rather than the other way around. More cars, more powerful… false argument for lowering the speed limit to a crawl. Hey, how about some rational bike laws combined with enforcement? Bet almost no cyclists have gotten fines in DC this year. I say this as someone who is also a cyclist.

  • I would love to see the speed limits lowered. But would it be enforced? In my opinion, DC needs specific traffic enforcement officers.

  • I live on 8th in this area and on Thurs-Sat nights traffic on 8th is crazy, and people drive like a bat out of hell and parking is a disaster. My car got sideswiped here while parked a month back and I lost a mirror. I also notice an uptick in non-DC tags on those nights (obviously, everyone is going to the bars etc.) and usually in the morning notice a lot of booze bottles in the planters/sidewalks. I guess people drive in, park, pre-game, hit the bars and then go home. I think a sobriety checkpoint in this area would yield a lot of DUIs. Towards last call, I notice a ton of unsafe/drunk driving on 8th on the weekends. Way too narrow of a road for those antics.
    There are a ton of cameras on the apartment buildings in this picture, and even one on a big pole on the West side of the street between S and R. Hopefully MPD can get the footage and pull a license plate.

    • “I think a sobriety checkpoint in this area would yield a lot of DUIs.” That raises an interesting question. I’ve lived in DC for almost 20 years and have owned a car the entire time, and I don’t know that I’ve ever seen one. Morning rush hour seatbelt checkpoints, sure, but no late night DUI checkpoints. Hell, I’ve lived very close to the 3d District Police station for 10 of those years and have seen dozens and dozens of obviously trashed drivers go right by my house with no consequences. Is DUI somehow not a priority for MPD? That can’t be the case, but they certainly act like it.

      • I am guessing it is likely a traffic issue. Stop all the cars leaving U street on Saturday night between midnight and 4 am and you create a traffic disaster…
        Couldn’t they stop every 10th car though and give everyone a good scare?

      • Roving patrols find more drunks than checkpoints.

        • No doubt this is true overall, but is this true in terms of officer hours per drunk drivers caught? I’m not asking to be a smartass, I’m actually curious. It just seems to me that dozens of obviously drunk drivers pass the intersection of 17th and U nightly, so wouldn’t it make sense to post a cruiser or right outside the police station’s garage door? I bet they’d hit double digits in arrest most nights.

      • A coworker of mine hit a checkpoint around 14th and P northbound on his way to work on a Sunday around 3:30am (we’re bakers). But aside from that, never heard of one.

      • justinbc

        Same, I’ve never once seen one in DC. They would have to do it on a highway exit or something, if they tried it on a busy city street drivers would just turn down a different way.

        • I think they account for that by having a couple of patrol cars in the area looking for drivers who do that. You can’t pull someone over for that alone, but you can keep an eye on them and see how they’re driving.

      • Have you ever been to AdMo on a Friday or Saturday night? MPD is out in force checking drivers those nights.

        • I live in Adams Morgan, and no, they’re not. They might be on 18th trying to keep the peace, but they’re not out in the neighborhood catching the drunks driving from where they parked their cars.

        • A few years ago, the MPD would setup a sobriety check point on U Street between 18th and 17th. They checked IDs and looked for drunk drivers. Not sure if they’ve done it recently. It seemed to be part of a crackdown and they did a few times over a 2 month period.

      • I’ saw one on Connecticut Ave between Woodley Park and Cleveland Park around 10:30 on a Friday night a year or two ago. Haven’t seen one since. It wasn’t set up very well. Very obvious as to what it was from far away and plenty of cars went around without passing through.

      • They used to have them fairly regularly on calvert, usually on the duke ellington bridge. I haven’t seen many in the last few years though.

  • Just keep in mind, speed limits are routinely ignored by dangerous drivers so while a lower speed limit may make driving a bit safer and “20 is plenty* is pretty catchy, it does not address the real issue. Plus, speaking of the rules of the road being routinely ignored, I see bicyclists blaze through intersections ignoring stop signs and red lights more often than not, so change needs to come from both sides. A movement will totally make things safer for all bicyclists, drivers, and pedestrians in the district but we should address the real problem, enforcing the law against both the drivers, the jaywalking pedestrians, and the bicyclists who make navigating the roads more difficult for everyone.

    • Plus +10000.

    • The problem with your statement is that you are somehow trying to deflect the blame onto “bicyclists who make navigating the roads more difficult for everyone.” Who would those other people be? Speeding drivers? Drivers who are texting? Drivers who are running red lights?

      The bottom line is that car drivers continue to kill people every week (and sometimes multiple times a day). It’s not cyclists who are creating this problem. Are there cyclists who break traffic laws? Yes. But are you honestly equating the danger posed by a cyclist rolling through a stop sign with a speeding/drunk/texting driver? Drivers kill about 6,000 to 7,000 times more people a year in the U.S. than cyclists do. That is over 32,000 people a year, every year, killed by drivers.

      • Plus +10000. As it were.

      • Do you know the driver of the SUV was drunk or texting? Maybe the cyclist blew through a stop sign and contributed to or was at fault, although obviously the SUV should have stopped in any case. The point above is much more helpful than your knee-jerk defend the cyclists reaction.

        • Easy, tiger. Area Resident was making a general comment. As is our tradition in this city, every time there is a cyclist-related incident, we naturally have to devolve into our tribal camps of cyclists vs. the world. Anonymous @ 5.21pm, although making some very reasonable points about the behaviour of cyclists, was also making some broad generalizations about all cyclists. (Though, to be clear, many of his/her points are well-taken.) Area Resident was simply restoring some balance in the force.
          Seriously, all of you need to calm down.

      • clevelanddave

        How about just for all drivers. Period. Yea, rolling through a stop sign in a modestly busy intersection at 2:20 in the morning is dangerous. Where did you get the stat about drivers v cyclists? Oh yea, you just made it up… and in any case it is really not relevant.

    • You’re right, 20 mph will be made the speed limit and it will be strictly enforced — with cameras.

  • I completely agree that lowering the speed limit in and of itself doesn’t solve any problems. But, and maybe I am dating myself, I grew up before seat belts and car seats were the norm…not to mention nobody thought twice about pounding a six pack and jumping in the Chevy. So, maybe a catchy phrase and a few PSAs start making people think about how they drive. Doesn’t make an impact on everyone, but the occasional few…and eventually…

    • Well, actually those safety campaigns have had an effect. A very significant effect. Back in those good ol’ days that you are so fond of, car drivers used to kill 40,000 or even close to 45,000 people in the U.S. each and every year. While drivers continue to be very deadly, they “only” kill about 32,000-33,000 a year in the U.S. these days. Still incredible, and outrageous, but better than 40,000.

      If 32,000 people were poisoned a year by food, or killed by a virus, people would be up in arms. Then they go out in their cars, speed, text and run red lights (and sometimes drink) and tens of thousands of people get killed on American roads.

      • Yes, that is the point. New sets of behaviors can be normalized including a lower speed limit. And, even of it doesn’t slow everyone down, there will be a statistical impact…no pun intended.

      • While I agree that those campaigns and laws around seat belts and car seats contributed to reduced rates of fatalities during car accidents, it didn’t account for that entire reduction. You also have to to take into account that cars have more advanced safety systems now (airbags, crumple zones, etc.) than they had back in the good ol’ days.

    • clevelanddave

      I don’t know where you grew up, but pounding down a six pack and driving has always been dangerous and not widely accepted by adults.

  • Sweden safety initiative that dramatically reduced road fatalities. Other US cities, including nyc & SF, have begun to use it as a guide. IMO the small inconvenience of reduced speed is worth saving someone’s life.

    “Two landmark studies, one from the US and one from the UK, found that pedestrians are killed:

    -5 percent of the time when struck by a car traveling 20 mph

    -37-45 percent of the time when struck by a car traveling 30 mph

    -83-85 percent of the time when struck by a car traveling 40 mph.”

  • I support lowering the speed limit. Anything to help lessen the danger. There are brazen and stupid behaviors happening on the part of everyone on the roads in DC — drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, and ATV/dirt bike riders. I have long wanted to invite a police officer to accompany me on my short 8 block walk to and from my office in downtown DC to witness what I see, but I figure I would be rebuffed. I do honestly fear for my personal safety. I’ve seen countless traffic violations and near misses. I regularly see cyclists blaze through intersections without stopping, cars speed up to fly through a yellow light landing in a crosswalk well after pedestrians have been given a walk signal, and pedestrians choosing to weave through traffic in the middle of busy streets. Never seen anyone stopped by a cop on my daily commute. The violators don’t seem concerned about consequences. Twice on Friday I was told by cyclists flying past to “move” while I was walking on a downtown sidewalk in the CBID. One has to be super alert with so many folks sharing the roads and sidewalks. I seriously always tell my out of town guests to look everywhere twice before attempting to cross a street and never jaywalk.

  • I have no idea whether alcohol or drugs were involved in this accident but this corner is still part of a pretty active drug market. The cops are aware its a ‘hot’ area and frequently station a squad car across from the Shaw metro at 8th & R, even during daylight hours.

    Here’s a reference to a significant drug bust in that area:

    Crew violence does occasionally still break out too.

    That said, since hundreds or thousands are coming to this neighborhood to drink around 2am while only dozens probably here for drugs, odds seem to point to a tragic drunk driving incident.

  • ANC6E Chair/Commissioner Padro and Deputy Chair Nigro (a woman triathlete/cyclist herself) have done ZERO to meet the safety needs of thousands of resident pedalers and guest bikers coming to and through ShawDC every day. They should immediately demand that DDOT’s new leadership complete the 7thStNW bike lane (from NStNW to PennQtr) and/or install a curb separated protected bike lane/cycle track on 6thStNW/Rt1 connecting the popular RStNW and QStNW bike lanes to the PennsylvaniaAveNW cycle track. Seniors, students and everyone in between need safe bike lanes; automobilists want bike lanes to keep cyclists out of their way. It’s a win/win.

    • it is not a ‘win/win’. the types of lanes you are suggesting do not protect cyclists at intersections, in fact they are more dangerous for cyclists at intersections. they put cyclists on the very edge of the road so it is difficult for perpendicular (colliding) lanes of traffic to see them. there is no reason to think that such a lane would have changed this sad situation at all. such a lane can only have an effect on ‘side swiping’ or ‘rear ending’ – which statistically almost never happens between bicycles and cars because (when) it does happen, it’s rare that serious injury results, and it is not reported. Dangerous accidents normally occur in only one place — at intersections — and segregated (bike) lanes make intersections more confusing and difficult to navigate, and increase the probability of accidents at such intersections. Segregated lanes also encourage drivers to go faster since they don’t have to share lanes with bicycles – further increasing risks at intersections. The closer traffic (and bicycles) can be to the center of roads at intersections, the safer it is for all – more visibility and more stopping distance…. … …. …. while seeing paint on the ground or concrete barriers may make you think ‘this city really cares about bikes’ there are no studies that show these changes improve safety for US bikers, and in fact limit your rights to use the road as a cyclist. definitely not a ‘win/win’ in black and white. This is a complicated issue and thinking that ‘doing something’ like building separate facilities to keep bikes off the existing roads is inherently a step forward for legitimizing cycling as a mode of transportation for the masses is not going to lead to good long term progress. We all know what is literally killing people – momentum-big heavy cars going too fast – the priority should be slowing them down, and finding ways to encourage their drivers to take other forms of transportation. Giving them a VIP ‘cars only’ speed lane is not the answer.

    • justinbc

      Nothing in DC gets done “immediately”.

      • To use ShawingtonTimes words, things are immediately demanded in DC all the time. Whether those things immediately happen is a different issue.

  • The speed limit is 25 and that’s fine.

  • I was just in Houston on business and witnessed 2 ladies get run over by an SUV. The memory if the sound is almost worse than the visual. Odd thing is that one was so messed up I didn’t even recognize her. She was one of the trainers and we had all just left the building. Fortunately she survived with multiple broken bones. The driver stayed on scene and even in a quiet and respectful way apologized to the ladies as they lay there on the street for what she did. A bit of PTSD for all of us. Readers are right, slow down drivers! and bike and Ped folks need to look up, look both ways, and look behind them. Put down your cell phones too. RIP Ms Reaves…..and hope your family gets some justice.

  • As both a bicyclist and a driver on our city streets, I want to take this opportunity to beg my fellow cyclists to please make sure you are visible to drivers. Especially at dusk and night. I am always on the lookout for bikes, but I have encountered so many lately that I cannot see until I’m right up on them because there is very little reflective gear, pathetic weak lights down low on the bike, all black clothing, black backpacks, no lights, etc. Bikes are especially hard to see when they are crossing in front usually because there are no lights or reflectors on the sides. Bikes are small and narrow and many people just cannot see them if they are not well lit, even in the daytime. I am in no way speculating on what the victim did or did not do nor am I excusing the driver. Just be safe and visible out there everyone, for yourself and the drivers around you.

    • +1 to all of this.
      I regularly go to Burning Man and one of the biggest safety issues they try to address out there is that ALL cyclists and pedestrians need to wear lights on both their front and back at night. If you’re not wearing appropriate lighting, people will stop and scold you for it (and even offer you free LED or glow sticks to wear).
      Lately, I’ve noticed LOTS of cyclists in DC with zero lights on their bikes, wearing all black at night, etc. And unlike Burning Man, we have cars zooming around our street at 10 to 20mph over the speed limit. If they can’t see you, they’re going to hit you. And you’ll have little recourse.

    • +100
      I think many cyclists think the lights are for themselves (as they would be on a trail without streetlights), and since they can see just fine without a headlamp they don’t need one. Remember that in cities, the lights are mainly for others to be able to see you. You can’t have bright enough lights (front and back and side) or enough reflective material on.

  • Its not the speed limit its the dumb ass cops who refuse to pull over drivers for driving badly. Also refuse to pull over cyclists for riding badly.

    Please get off your phones, get out of your cars and earn your money.

  • Although I would never condone this behavior and this may not apply to this situation but last night I was driving home on a one way street and another biker was flying down the wrong way. And he wasnt even in the bike lane because there was another biker following the one way rule and in her bike lane. Also there have been plenty of times when I am turning into one way streets and bikers are flying into that street the wrong way. Many do NOT even break for a few seconds at red lights. I think it is great that DC is a bike friendly city but bikers have taken their entitlement to a whole different level. we must implement strict laws and penalties for bikers like Portland did. That is how Portland was able to reduce the number of bike/car accidents too.

  • People around here drive like they are possessed after getting inside their cars. Once again someone is tragically killed by a reckless driver. I don’t care how you pose the argument, a car will still be a 2 ton lethal weapon when wielded in the hands of someone being stupid. This is far heavier, faster, and more dangerous than a bike or pedestrian.

    The cops need to enforce traffic laws in DC. There is literally almost no enforcement of traffic laws here other than the use of cameras to ticket people. Concrete barriers need to be put in place on the street permanently separating bike traffic with pedestrian traffic & regular traffic.

    Please be safe people when riding your bike out there. My motto is to blind people with enough lights that there is no question drivers will see me.

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