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Woman pleads guilty in deadly Beltway hit-and-run

On Thursday, Kelli Loos pleaded guilty in connection with a wreck on the Capital Beltway that claimed the life of Gradys Mendoza.

Loos pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicular manslaughter and one count of failure to remain at the scene of an accident resulting in death, according to the Montgomery County state's attorney’s office. Authorities have said she had a blood alcohol level more than twice the legal limit when she struck the pickup truck that Gradys was riding in.

The news reminded me of the phone call I made to Mendoza's home as I worked to report the story. I wanted to learn about Gradys's life, who he was and what he did.

Kelli Loos (Fairfax County Sheriff's Office)

It was the day after Mendoza died, and a roomful of family and friends had gathered at his home. They passed the phone around, telling me about him one by one.

In situations like this, people I interview are often motivated by a desire to get their side of the story out. But I couldn't help being struck by the kindness and sincerity of the people I spoke with that day.

Loos is scheduled to be sentenced in April, according to prosecutors, who say she faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

-- Dan Morse

By Dan Morse  |  January 15, 2010; 9:46 AM ET
Categories:  Dan Morse , Montgomery , Updates  
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It is a disturbing trend in Washinton Metro area that increasingly people dont stop at the scene of accident if they think they may be at fault especially when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Better prosecution and tougher penalties are needed.

Posted by: Jim110 | January 15, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I was present at the scene of carnage that Kelli Loos left behind in Cabin John when she killed two men and didn't even bother to stop. She was drunk. She fled the scene. She had PROR arrests in Virginia for driving while suspended. In Maryland, she had PRIOR charges for driving while suspended, failure to stop and leave information at the scene of an accident, driving without insurance, and possession of a suspended license. On the night of the homicides (it is hardly proper to call it an "accident"), there was an outstanding warrant for her arrest for failure to appear in court.

Kelli Loos probably doesn't think of herself as a murderer and probably doesn't have the heart of a murderer in that she didn't intentionally kill two innocent men on their way home from work to see their families. However, she acted with gross indifference for others. She could have just as easily killed my wife and children. She could have just as easily killed someone YOU love. Her indifference wasn't just wrong, it was criminal. It resulted in the deaths of two people. She deserves to go to jail for an extended period.

Posted by: MdLaw | January 15, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

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