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Driver in festival crash had long drug history

  1. 0utrider
    From CNN

    story.dc.car.ap.jpg

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- A woman accused of plowing her car through a crowded street festival after a day spent smoking crack cocaine was ordered held without bond on Monday.
    Tonya N. Bell, 30, is charged with aggravated assault, and prosecutors say they are considering additional charges. She is accused of driving through a police barricade into the crowd Saturday evening, sending people and strollers flying and injuring at least 40 people.
    According to charging documents, Bell told police she had been "smoking crack all day." Her 7-year-old daughter was a passenger in a rear seat of the car, according to the documents. The child was not injured and was taken by Child Protective Services.
    Authorities believe Bell, of Oxon Hill, Maryland., was going about 70 mph when she drove through Unifest, a church-sponsored street festival in southeast Washington. She was treated for an ankle injury, police said.
    Officials were still waiting for toxicology results.
    In court Monday, Bell wore a hospital gown and splint on her left leg. She did not speak except to say her name when asked by the judge.
    Magistrate Judge Milton C. Lee ordered Bell held without bond and scheduled a hearing for Thursday.
    She previously served time in prison for charges involving cocaine, according to court records.
    Bell had until recently worked in the office of Marion Barry, former mayor and a District of Columbia Council member, as a receptionist employed by a temp agency. Barry's office issued a letter terminating its contract with NAI Personnel.
    "The behavior of your employee, although outside of work, indicates that you may not have properly investigated her background prior to placing her in our office," wrote Keith A. Perry, Barry's chief of staff.
    In Barry's third term as mayor, he was videotaped in 1990 in a hotel room smoking crack cocaine in an FBI sting. He served a six-month prison sentence.
    Ali Khan, a friend of Bell's who employed her when she was a child, said she struggled with drug addiction for years.
    "She had a lot of problems," Khan said after the hearing Monday. "I think drugs were a way out for her."
    Bell appeared to be laughing as she drove the car with flattened tires and broken windows into the crowd, said Linda Greene, who saw Bell's car from her porch.
    "The car just passed so fast, and all of a sudden I just heard people screaming," said Denise Jackson. "I turned around, and it was like bodies falling out of the sky."
    Her son, 4-year-old Marcellus Jackson, was thrown out of the speeding car's path by his father, Fenty said. Marcellus suffered a broken leg. His father, Vincent Hayes, was hit by the car but was OK.
    Police said Bell was seen driving erratically and had struck an unmarked police car 20 minutes before the injuries at the street festival. Police Cmdr. Patrick Burke said officers had followed Bell's station wagon but were told to stop because the traffic violation did not pose a threat to officers.
    After the car entered the crowd, police didn't use their weapons because of the risk to civilians. Instead, officers risked their lives and threw two motor scooters under the station wagon to bring it to a stop, Police Chief Cathy Lanier said. Two officers suffered minor injuries. One woman said her husband reached into the car and put it in park.

Comments

  1. stoneinfocus
    Well, at least it was the right crowd she drove into *lol*
    what´s a motor scooter?
  2. UberDouche
    Classic case of synchronicity, "Bell had until recently worked in the office of Marion Barry, former mayor and a District of Columbia Council member, as a receptionist employed by a temp agency...In Barry's third term as mayor, he was videotaped in 1990 in a hotel room smoking crack cocaine in an FBI sting. He served a six-month prison sentence."
    Sorry for the injured, but the rest of this story is really, really ironic, or maybe laconic? Anyway...
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