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Posted at 8:35 PM ET, 08/30/2010

Bicyclist, 9, fatally struck by car in Fairfax

By Erica Johnston

Update, 10:09 p.m.:

The Fairfax County girl who died after being struck by a car has been identified as Rebecca Johns, of Clermont Drive.


Earlier:

A 9-year-old Fairfax County girl was struck by a car and fatally injured Monday afternoon while crossing a road on her bicycle, county police said.

The incident happened about 4:30 p.m. south of Alexandria on Franconia Road in the Rose Hill section of the county.

The 9-year-old and two teenage girls had been been riding east on a bicycle path adjacent to Franconia Road, said Officer Don Gotthard, a police spokesman. As they approached Cannon Lane, the teenagers crossed Franconia on their bicycles from north to south, he said.

The 9-year-old tried to cross as well, but was struck by a car in the westbound lanes of the road, Gotthardt said. She was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where she died, he said.

The girl’s name was not released immediately, pending notification of family members.

-- Martin Weil

By Erica Johnston  | August 30, 2010; 8:35 PM ET
Categories:  Crime and Public Safety, Virginia  
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Comments

I think you meant to write: A human being who was driving a car hit and killed a 9 year-old girl Monday afternoon.

Here you have the victim being struck, in the passive voice, by an object with no agency. This makes no sense. Human beings drive cars. A driver drove that car that hit the girl. Whoever's fault this incident was, this kind of circumlocution only serves to obscure what we all know to be the case. Please, Washington Post, stop this abuse of our sense and clear speech.

Posted by: tmp2234 | August 31, 2010 12:03 AM | Report abuse

tmp2234. what makes no sense is you posting something so silly about an article in which the subject is so serious and is such a horrible tragedy. And frankly, my dear, i don't give a damn about any grammatical or spelling errors as my eyes and thoughts are too clouded by tears at the loss of just a young child.

Posted by: dlpetersdc | August 31, 2010 6:00 AM | Report abuse

Shut up, tmp2234.

Posted by: mikecapitolhill | August 31, 2010 6:05 AM | Report abuse

tmp2234 time for the little green pill. In two hours take the little red pill. WOW

Posted by: bigheadbull2 | August 31, 2010 6:58 AM | Report abuse

Let's just pray for everyone involved, if that is your way. What a tragedy, instead of buying school supplies the family is planning a funeral. And the driver and his family have had their lives turned upside down as well. I pray that all will be embraced by a loving spirit.

Posted by: doubled641 | August 31, 2010 7:37 AM | Report abuse

It's sad that this little girl's tragic death will become fodder for the self-righteous anti-car crowd to become even more self-righteous (and ridiculous).

Posted by: WashingtonDame | August 31, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

What anti car crowd? You're the one expoiting a tragedy to make an inane and mean-spirited point.

Posted by: krickey7 | August 31, 2010 9:16 AM | Report abuse

There is not a bicycle path on Franconia Road. What is being referred to as a bike path is a twenty-inch strip of asphalt that runs contiguous to the road. The edge of the road would more accurately describe it. The problem with Franconia is that it has an extremely large volume of traffic moving through a residential neighborhood and there are no signals, at reasonable intervals, to assist pedestrians and bicyclist when attempting to cross.

Posted by: aej912 | August 31, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Right on cue, krickey7 shows up with some venom, just as I predicted.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | August 31, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

@tmp2234: I actually agree with your point.

@Dame: passive aggresive much?

Sad thing for the family, the driver and the teenagers. Better bike and car safety seems to be needed.

Posted by: Greent | August 31, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

@doubled641

It hasn't been established that the driver of the car that struck Rebecca Johns was male.

It also doesn't say if police chose to not issue a ticket. It seems strange that there is a death and no court process to review the facts formally.

Posted by: blasmaic | August 31, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Wow, who would have thought a internet comment thread would have turned petty and ad hominem so quickly?

Look, the way we talk about things matters. We don't have the facts about who was at fault here, either the girl or the driver, which is why I avoided commenting on the particulars of this situation. I'm sure the police will investigate appropriately. And regardless of their investigation, everyone feels pity and horror for the girl, her family, and the driver.

But cars aren't forces of nature. They're machines, not hurricanes. It's not a grammatical point, it's a public policy one. When we think and write about cars as things by which children are struck, we twist our thinking into believing that events such as this were inevitable. But traffic deaths aren't inevitable. They're the result of our choices about road design, sidewalks, car safety, etc. More than 37,000 people died on the roads last year, or about ten times the number of troops we've lost in Iraq. That's actually a great decrease in the last decade. But treating cars as if they weren't machines controlled by human beings makes it harder to realize how much we can still do to prevent terrible deaths like this one.

Posted by: tmp2234 | August 31, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Wow, who would have thought a internet comment thread would have turned petty and ad hominem so quickly?

Look, the way we talk about things matters. We don't have the facts about who was at fault here, either the girl or the driver, which is why I avoided commenting on the particulars of this situation. I'm sure the police will investigate appropriately. And regardless of their investigation, everyone feels pity and horror for the girl, her family, and the driver.

But cars aren't forces of nature. They're machines, not hurricanes. It's not a grammatical point, it's a public policy one. When we think and write about cars as things by which children are struck, we twist our thinking into believing that events such as this were inevitable. But traffic deaths aren't inevitable. They're the result of our choices about road design, sidewalks, car safety, etc. More than 37,000 people died on the roads last year, or about ten times the number of troops we've lost in Iraq. That's actually a great decrease in the last decade. But treating cars as if they weren't machines controlled by human beings makes it harder to realize how much we can still do to prevent terrible deaths like this one.

Posted by: tmp2234 | August 31, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Someone died and the driver gets nothing but a scratch on the bumper. The driver does not even have to pay for the ambulance. How can you not see a kid in a bike crossing the street in the middle of the afternoon? There is a path next to the road so people will be crossing. Sorry but cars are kings.

Posted by: jercha | August 31, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

@blasmaic - it has been reported that the driver was an 80YO male.

Amazing, that people are being so petty. Wow, what a reflection of society. Too bad. I'm praying for all of you.

Posted by: doubled641 | August 31, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

>>Wow, who would have thought a internet comment thread would have turned petty and ad hominem so quickly?

This is often because as soon as "bicyclist" shows up in a headline, Washingtondame shows up with her irrational hatred. Did a bicyclist run over her soul, I wonder? Poor woman.

Posted by: Wallenstein | August 31, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

I'll bet Washingtondame hasn't been on a bike on a public roadway in years.

Posted by: aej912 | August 31, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I'll bet Washingtondame hasn't been on a bike on a public roadway in years.

Posted by: aej912 | August 31, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

No, but I've hit and knocked to the ground TWICe by cyclists while I was crossing a street on a GREEN light. Neither cyclist stopped to assist me. Both were running a red light. So, it annoys me when cyclists act like cars are the only dangers on the road and that cyclists are as pure as the driven snow.

The man whose car struck the child was 80 years old, and neither speed nor alcohol is implicated.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | August 31, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

@Jercha- you don't see a kid on a bicycle when you're an 80 year old who probably should have given up the keys 10 years ago...sure wish mandatory yearly skills testing for older drivers would become a reality. Nonsense like this could be reduced.

I heard about this on my commute home yesterday and said a prayer for all involved. I am sorry to hear she died. As a parent myself, I can't imagine...

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | August 31, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

No, but I've hit and knocked to the ground TWICe by cyclists while I was crossing a street on a GREEN light.. . .
Posted by: WashingtonDame
* * *
Well, well, well, a family has lost their little girl and it's just all about YOU, isn't it? Why don't you go out and play while the grown-ups finish reading the paper.

Posted by: 7900rmc | August 31, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Well, at least now there is information for why @Dame hates bicyclists.

Speed nor alchohol a factor. I agree with @cyansquirrel on those yearly mandatory skills tests - for those under 18, and those over 65, and anyone who gets a dangerous driving citation.

Poor family who has lost their child, Poor teens who were there and poor old man who knows he killed a kid, though that was obviously not his intention.

Posted by: Greent | August 31, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

aej912 and others -- I live just off of Cannon Lane, and I am a bicylist who uses that trail. Let me address a few points here:

1. The black "strip of asphalt" on the north side of Franconia is indeed a pedestrian/bicyclist path -- or it is at least used heavily for that purpose. It is not fair to call it "the edge of the road". On at least one side of the road (north), it is separated from the road by grass medians, and where those girls attempted to cross, the medians are several feet across and provide a more than adequate barrier between the roadway and the pedestriab/bike path. There is nothing at all dangerous about being on the path, as long as you're on it. It continues from the intersection of Franconia and Cannon all the way up to the Rose Hill shopping center (about 1.7 miles), and I have personally used it to bicycle safely hundreds of times. There is a similar path on the opposite side of Franconia that runs a similar length. They both work perfectly well for walking/bike riding, and are used for those purposes every day.

2. I will agree with the contention that there need to be well-marked and lit pedestrian/bicycle crossings to allow pedestrians and others to cross Franconia safely, and potentially stop signs/lights. You take your life in your hands when crossing Franconia beyond the Rose Hill shopping center heading eastbound, and until you get to Rose Hill heading westbound, as in most cases, there are no stop signs, crosswalks, stop lights, etc. This has been especially bad during the "Telegraph under construction" era, as a lot of motorists use it as a commuter path to avoid traffic on Telegraph Rd. Anyone who traverses Franconia westbound during afternoon rush can tell you this. Franconia eastbound also gets high volumes of traffic any time that the Beltway backs up onto Van Dorn.

3.

Posted by: eagle97 | August 31, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

@doubled641

Thanks for your prayers. I'm praying that someone will give me the winning Powerball ticket, as I don't buy lottery tickets.

The kid's death is tragic. Trying to keep up with the older girls, it seems she failed to look before pedaling into the street.

But the scenario is entirely understandable. In fact, I got a ticket from a red-light camera because I tried to rush through on a yellow light with speeders who were going much faster than I was. Those going 20 mph over the limit made it through. At 10 mph over the limit, I got the ticket. No lie.

Posted by: blasmaic | August 31, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

I live in the neighborhood and know the family. While it's interesting to dissect the traffic and public policy issues, this is first and foremost a human tragedy. The family is devastated, and everyone who knows them and knew their little girl is in shock. I don't mean to criticize any of the previous commentators, and I'm as eager as anyone for the facts of the investigation to come out. But let's not lose sight of what is important here. A little girl, full of joy and promise, won't be going to school on Tuesday. Her family and friends are heartbroken. This is every parent's nightmare, and it happened to them.

Posted by: Abracadebra | August 31, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

I just came home and saw poor Rebecca's house, with balloons and flowers. I feel sorry for the girl. All prayers go to her

Posted by: yummahstrawberries | September 2, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I just came home and I past the poor girl's home. Balloons and flowers, I seriously feel sorry for the poor girl. All prayers go to her and her family. She is in heaven with God. Bless Rebecca Johns.

Posted by: yummahstrawberries | September 2, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

this is very tragic, but the reality that we have to face that we all have to share the roads and sidewalks together. people using bicycles, cars, skateboards, and their legs all have an obligation to look out for each other. accidents are always preventable!

www.2wheelbikes.com

Posted by: JakeDurfee | September 2, 2010 6:34 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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