Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 13, 2016

Police Conclude Investigation Into Capitol Car Crash (Updated)

(Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

(Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call)

Capitol Police have cleared the scene of a fatal single-car crash that propelled a silver SUV into a tree south of the Capitol early Friday morning.

No details have been released on what may have caused the high-speed collision as the driver headed northbound on South Capitol Street. The car hit a large, decorative flower pot — ironically designed to deter crashes and traffic — with such force that the vehicle was flung airborne, ripping branches nearly 30 feet above the ground from two nearby trees.

Updated 6:42 p.m.

First responders arriving on the scene around 3 a.m. found the silver SUV vertically wrapped around a tree, about 50 feet from the cracked pot. The force of the crash catapulted pieces of the car into the intersection with D Street Southeast. The Metropolitan Police Department identified the driver, who died in the accident, as 19-year-old Hunter B. Harries of McLean, Va. A toxicology report is “pending autopsy,” said MPD spokesman Hugh Carew.

Debris from the crash, including the SUV’s engine and a car door, littered South Capitol Street and a Capitol barricade. Officers on the scene said car parts had been found on the roof of the nearby Longworth Office Building Parking Garage, where staffers congregated to gawk and photograph the messy accident.

D.C. Fire and EMS transported the driver, who was alone in the car, to George Washington Medical Center at 3:28 a.m. with life-threatening injuries.

Lt. Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman for the Capitol Police, said investigators were working in conjunction with the MPD on the crash scene investigation. The traffic accident investigation concluded and the streets were reopened in the late afternoon.

Capitol Police redirected traffic on blocks surrounding the scene throughout the morning. The flattened car was pried from the tree around noon.

By 12:30 p.m., a grounds crew from the Architect of the Capitol had dealt with most of the debris. The team worked quickly, wielding leaf blowers, chainsaws and rakes to clear the damaged tree limbs and debris.

Ten hours after the crash, only South Capitol Street between C and D streets Southeast remained closed for accident cleanup. All other roads were clear.

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  • Rob Damschen

    Here’s the video of the car getting pulled away from the tree

  • Concerned Citizen

    Hannah Hess- Do you have some sort of social disorder? Serious question. Between your inappropriate tweets and your poorly written article, I am concerned for you. Your writing is completely tasteless and disgusting. “Ironically designed to deter…” “Gawking at the mess…” There is nothing ironic about this. My heart melts for the family and I hope you reconsider your profoundly cold and disrespectful attitude. A life has been lost and no one knows the circumstances. Journalism 101, when someone dies just report the necessary facts. Report the facts, drop your colorful tone and do your job. I can hear your dirtbag voice seeping out of this article.

  • Equally Concerned

    Is there an editor that looked at this?

  • Hutch King

    Once the British recognized liberty’s benefits, they began to study liberty’s history, improve its principles, and broaden its influence.

  • coffeeHouse1982

    Since it is impossible for anyone to know what anyone else does best, the only way to find out is through competition.

  • Al Egro

    One of the cases for the individualist conception is that its derived political systems minimize to “least harm” that which evil men can do.

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