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Md. candidate dies from crash injuries

Josh White

Natasha Pettigrew, a 30-year-old Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland, died late Monday night, one day after she was hit by a car while riding her bicycle.

Maryland State Police said they learned Pettigrew had died at a Prince George's County hospital at 10:30 p.m. on Monday.

Pettigrew. (Courtesy Photo)

She had been critically injured at about 5:30 a.m. on Sunday while training for a triathlon on Route 202 in the Largo area.

Pettigrew was hit by an SUV traveling south on Route 202 near the intersection with Campus Way. State police said the driver apparently thought she had hit a deer or another animal and realized what had happened when she found Pettigrew's bicycle trapped under her car upon arriving home at a Cheverly area address. Pettigrew was not dragged by the vehicle but suffered severe injuries, police said.

The driver, who police identified as Christy R. Littleford, 41, called Prince George's County police sometime before 6:30 a.m. on Sunday to report the crash. County police then relayed the information to state police, who were on the scene.

"She had driven to her home and called from her home," said Greg Shipley, a Maryland State Police spokesman. "The initial indication was that she thought she may have hit a deer or an animal in the roadway. That’s the indication our troopers were given. When she arrived home and saw the bicycle, she assumed it was something else."

Shipley said investigators are trying to determine if Pettigrew was wearing reflective clothing or had operating lights during her pre-dawn ride, but he said it was not immediately obvious at the scene that she was.

Police said it did not appear that alcohol or drugs were a factor in the crash. State police are investigating the incident but so far no charges have been filed.

Pettigrew was born in the District and later moved to Maryland, graduating from Elizabeth Seton High School in Bladensburg. After graduating from The Ohio State University, Pettigrew served a year in AmeriCorps and later worked as an administrative assistant for the Town of Cheverly.

She started law school at the University of Miami (FL) in 2008 and was taking a break to run for Senate. According to her campaign's website, she ultimately wanted to practice juvenile advocacy law.

-- Josh White

By Josh White  | September 21, 2010; 1:04 PM ET
Categories:  Josh White, Pr. George's, Traffic Accidents, Updates  
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This is so sad. Such a tragic accident. In reading about her on her candidate site, she sounded like a wonderful young woman with a very loving family and a full life ahead of her. She will be missed by many... My thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends.

Posted by: anon57 | September 21, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Something totally fishy about the driver's story. You don't hit a human being on a bicycle then drag the bike under you car and not know it. I hope the police tested the driver for drugs and alcohol. Our thoughts and prayers go to Natasha's family and friends.

Posted by: Baltimore11 | September 21, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Second Baltimore11's comments. Even if alcohol/drugs aren't a factor, I'm guessing the driver thought she was getting away with a hit and run. Until she got home saw that bike was clearly visible under her car (maybe she couldn't dislodge it by herself?), then she decided to call the police and get in front of the story by claiming a deer strike. Total b-sh; hope she goes down for manslaughter.

Posted by: 7900rmc | September 21, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I agree--if somebody is so impaired that they cannot see a bicycle, or they think it is a deer, they are too impaired to drive. It seems more likely that the driver thought he/she could get away with it. Sickening.

Posted by: dricks | September 21, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

If I hit something as large as a deer with my car, I'd immediately pull over and inspect the damage. This makes no sense.

Posted by: pswift00 | September 21, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

When you hit a deer, you see the darn thing in slow motion before impact. I don't know why police ever buy that story. No one hits a dear and doesn't know it.

Posted by: good1 | September 21, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Even if you think you hit a deer or any small animal you pullover get out of your car and inspect the damage. I think that this driver was distracted by her cellphone, intoxicated or high on some drugs. She went home and probably had time to come down off that high!!! If a bicycle was still stuck to her undercarriage she would definitely know it because it would be scraping the pavement. The police definitely need to investigate further.

Posted by: BROWNGA33 | September 21, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I guess the driver didn't notice the scraping, grinding sound coming from under her vehicle, nor the humungous thud as she crushed the bicyclist.

One would hope the liar would get convicted of manslaughter, but that seems to never happen in these cases of vehicular carnage.

Posted by: ewinslow | September 21, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

I knew Natasha and I am distraught. I encourage everyone to write to the police, State's Attorney and/or whomever to fully investigate this bogus claim regarding hitting a deer! Clearly the bike would have made noise lodged under the car. Waiting four hours to call police indicated negligent behavior at best and criminal behavior at worst. Disregard for human life is a crime. She should have pulled over to inspect. How do we know this was the driver? It could have been her kid or someone else illegally driving that car!

Leaving my friend on the side of the road is too heavy for me to think about. My prayers are with her and her family. God help this society that seemingly continues to not care about human life!

Posted by: john_clendenin | September 21, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Route 202 is multilane with a shoulder in that area. It's not some narrow, winding country road where one might unwittingly strike a deer.

Give me a break , PG police. You're buying this?

Posted by: Wallenstein | September 21, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

And where exactly was Christy R. Littleford coming from at 5:30 in the morning after a Saturday night? Any after hours bars or clubs near there?

Posted by: racer5 | September 21, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

What an incredibly sad and tragic story. A bright, sincere, civic-minded young woman lost in her prime. And the driver's story doesn't make sense. Channel 7 News showed the Cadillac which had been backed into the garage with the bicycle still pinned beneath it! I don't believe the driver's story for a minute.

Posted by: DecafDrinker | September 21, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

My deepest sympathy to Natasha's family and friends.

The police should check the driver's mobile phone records to see if the she was on the phone or texting when the incident occurred. This should be standard practice whenever a bicyclist or pedestrian is struck by a car.

Posted by: elsiss | September 21, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Give me a break , PG police. You're buying this?

Posted by: Wallenstein | September 21, 2010 5:16 PM

Read the story you clown. It clearly states Maryland STATE Police are investigating!

Posted by: gpl2411 | September 21, 2010 8:04 PM | Report abuse

My condolences to the family and friends of Ms. Pettigrew. This is a terribly sad story.

And something is definitely wrong with the driver's account. Whether you thought you hit a deer, guardrail, or light post wouldn't it be normal to (at least) check your vehicle for damage? And how do you drive for miles with a bicycle lodged under your vehicle and not notice a noise or change in handling of that vehicle?

This case needs to be investigated further. There are too many questions, and the driver's story stinks like three day old fish...

Posted by: dgilday | September 21, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

"I agree--if somebody is so impaired that they cannot see a bicycle, or they think it is a deer, they are too impaired to drive. It seems more likely that the driver thought he/she could get away with it. Sickening."

You do realize that it is *dark* at 5:30 in the morning?

It is possible that the driver was trying to get away with a hit-and-run. It is also possible that she thought she hit a deer and, as a single woman, was afraid to stop. This could be anything from DUI to bad judgment.

Posted by: guez | September 22, 2010 6:58 AM | Report abuse

A "Police Report" is simply the statement of the reporting officer's factual observations, including statements made by any principles and witnesses. There is no "buy" factor involved.

Of course there will be an investigation. And you can be certain that the investigators will be viewing some of the statements and circumstances having been reported thus far with a great deal of skepticism.

Posted by: unnamedsource1 | September 22, 2010 7:22 AM | Report abuse

"It is possible that the driver was trying to get away with a hit-and-run. It is also possible that she thought she hit a deer and, as a single woman, was afraid to stop. This could be anything from DUI to bad judgment."

WTH has being a single woman got to do with this? If you have guts to drive a 7000 pound SUV at 5:30am in the morning on a not so busy route, then you should also have the guts to stop and see whom you have killed. OR

Does that mean that next time if she hits a pedestrian in middle of nowhere, then she does not have to stop because she is a single woman? If it is the case of bad judgement, then she should give up her license and go to jail because obviously she is not capable enough to drive and she was the reason behind the cyclists death.

Posted by: schuler101 | September 22, 2010 8:05 AM | Report abuse

"One would hope the liar would get convicted of manslaughter, but that seems to never happen in these cases of vehicular carnage."
Posted by: ewinslow


Exactly right.

Pettigrew represented the best of what her generation has to offer. What an incredible waste that she was senselessly killed in an "accident" by yet another mindless, self-absorbed SUV driver.

Cyclists and pedestrians (and small vehicle operators), please be vigilant out there. NEVER assume that drivers can see you (or will even stop if they strike you).

This heartless, thoughtless driver didn't, and it may have cost Ms. Pettigrew her life.

To Christy R. Littleford and legions of American drivers like her, everything and everyone is an obstacle.

I hope Natasha's family, friends, and supporters create something worthy of her legacy in her honor (road safety campaign, scholarship, etc.).

Posted by: FedUpInMoCo | September 22, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

"You do realize that it is *dark* at 5:30 in the morning?

...It is also possible that she thought she hit a deer and, as a single woman, was afraid to stop. This could be anything from DUI to bad judgment.

Posted by: guez | September 22, 2010 6:58 AM"


Excellent points
If it were a dark desolate road, fear of stopping would be an issue. However, there are a number of places she could have safely stopped that were very close to the scene of the accident (namely a satellite police station AND a fire house) before driving all the way to Cheverly with a large object attached. Therein lies the problem. She had options.

Posted by: Res1 | September 22, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Napa Valley California saw acceptance for distracted drivers, to include one driver looking for a snack in the back seat, and even for drunken drivers hitting, maming and killing bicylists. After several drivers got away with manslaughter with a slap on the wrist, bicyclists noted future court dates, put out the word, and rallied all in the area to show up at the court house in full bike gear. Fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, friends, neighbors all showed up to give a human face to "those crazy cyclists." It worked. Manslaughter began to mean something again when it came to killed cyclists, and drivers began doing real time. In fact, one of these convicted drivers admitted once in jail that it was intentional--the bicyclist reminded him of a bicyclist who 'stole' his wife from him--brilliant logic for murder! I've personally had drivers brush me intentionally, then yelling for me to get off of the road--I always ride in the shoulder. Media even accepts this as comical. The movie Natural Born Killers has them shooting random cyclists and laughing as "... those things are hard to hit." I'll never forget hearing the theater roar with laughter. Most recently, now there's a Mazda (I believe Mazda) commercial with a bicyclist resting his palm on the hood of a Mazda at each light intersection. Harmless, but not polite on the bicyclist's part , I'll agree. Then the car slams on its brakes the next time the cyclist tried it, and the cyclist fell over--a comical commercial showing cars making bikes crash is hilarious.

Lets join Napa Valley California with a mass showing of bicyclists at this driver's trial. Any politician (to include judges) who find bicyclist killings as, just unfortunte, need to be removed in upcoming elections--they've apparently lost touch with what is not funny, what is acceptable, and what is negligent homicide.

Just last 25 Aug:

Posted by: MikeABicyclist | September 22, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I'm guessing the driver was on a cellphone. I see it daily...self-absorbed drivers chatting away completely unaware of the traffic, pedestrians, cyclists, etc. surrounding them. It's been illegal to do so in DC for quite some time now, but I've yet to see anyone ticketed for it nor stopped when a policeman witnesses them almost running us down as we cross the street. Yet, if I were to pull the person from the vehicle and shove the phone where their head is...I would charged with assault.

Posted by: CalmTruth | September 22, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

My condolences to the Pettigrew family in there loss. I pray that the Lord will comfort you in the days ahead.

These comments are all interesting and speculative at the same time. No one knows what Christy was doing coming home at 5:30am. Yet we are all speculating she was on the phone or leaving a club from night life or whatever. Shucks for all we know she could have just got off from work? We don't know, we just throwing out speculations in hopes some detective will read your blog.

My comment is simply this, it is a tragedy that this has happened. I personally would have been afraid to stop on 202 at 5:30 in the morning myself as a woman. The crime in that area for carjackings and muggings are off the chain these days. If I thought I hit an animal, I would have kept going. I would not but myself in danger on a dark road in the night or early morning hours. If I thought I hit a deer, I would have sat in my vehicle and called my husband. I don't know if she had that option. One thing for sure, I would not have got out my car to inspect anything. I don't carry a gun or mace so I would have stay put!

In addition for the record I have hit an animal at night on a dark road and could not see it because my vision is impaired at night and like Christy, I kept it moving. My friend in the car told me I hit the animal (a white cat) we went back to see if we could see it and it was gone. I could not see a the white cat on a dark road! It was a mistake does that mean I am mean or an animal hater? No it was a simple mistake!

Some of you can easily say what you would or would not have done at the time but you really don't know until it happens. I am not defending Christy or taking away from Natasha's horrific death. My point here is we need to pray for the families of both. Who knows if Christy is a mother, if she does jail time because she made a bad judgment call, here is another child raised without their mother. And in Natasha's case here is a mother who has lost her daughter in a senseless death. In either case do we dare compare grief to grief?

I like the post about being vigilant behind the wheel of your vehicle. That's really the issue. Stop texting, talking and tailgating folks on the road, let go of the aggression and be mindful of those that are around you. Basic driving skills 101. Bicyclist and Motorist alike should practice roadside courtesy.

Some of you aren't going to like my comment, that's cool, but for those of you who have a prayer life, pray for all that is involved, there are families affected on both sides.

That's what I'm going to do. I refuse to pass judgment because I never know when I will need someone to forgive me for my mistakes and have mercy on me and pray for me and neither do you.

Posted by: HisGloryTravels | September 23, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

I could Almost agree about not passing judgement. If I thought I had hit an animal on a dark road I may not have stopped either. BUT.. I would have checked my car AS SOON AS I GOT HOME or someplace safe. She took an hour to look at her car??? Either she was drunk and passed out or someone had to convince her to call. The thought of Pettigrew seeing the car drive away as she lay dying alone on the side of road takes all my sympathy for Littleford away. She had to know and she should have called. I do have sympathy for both Littlefords and Pettigrews family

Posted by: opulent | September 23, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

I too could almost agree about not passing judgement, but this case screams, "What would have crossed through the mind of any reasonable adult?" If heard the tiny thud of a cat, agreed--it is too dangerous to stop. However, if I heard the loud thud of a 125+ pound body mangling my car followed by the screech and sparks of grinding metal all the way home, I would stop and look. Could someone be alive and dragging also under my car? And certainly the slightest possiblity that I struck a human being who might desperately need my help, and at least a couple of seconds worth of dialing in a call for help, would have unavoidably crossed my mind and compelled me to be very certain before continuing on down the road with only myself on my mind. By the way, the going joke in the bike community for hit-and-run deaths has been, "I thought I hit a dog." It is the go-to answer for getting away with negligent vehicular homicide hit and run.

Posted by: MikeABicyclist | September 27, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

By the way, if I was Mrs. Littelford's attorney, I might have someone type up a message on each these related blogs about simple just-let-it-go accidents and forgiveness, in hopes that someone from the State's Attourney's office is reading this.

Posted by: MikeABicyclist | September 27, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

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