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Alexandria woman killed in crash on Interstate 81

An Alexandria woman is dead after a three-vehicle crash on Interstate 81 in Pulaski County that kept part of the interstate closed for nearly eight hours.

According to Virginia State Police, the crash occurred shortly after 1 p.m Oct. 18 in the southbound lanes of I-81 at the 87 mile marker. One lane of traffic reopened at about 5:30 p.m. but both southbound lanes of I-81 were not reopened to traffic until 9 p.m.

Police said a tractor-trailer full of frozen chicken driven by an Ashburn man was traveling south on I-81 when it came upon stopped traffic. The traffic had slowed to a stop due to a lane closure for bridge construction on I-81 at the 86 mile marker. Police said the tractor-trailer was unable to brake in time and swerved to the left in an attempt to avoid the stopped traffic.

As it swerved, police said the truck struck a 2006 Ford Escape and then overturned onto its side in the median. Meanwhile, the Ford Escape was pushed forward and into the rear of another southbound tractor-trailer. The female driver of the Ford Escape, Sharon L. Tate, 47, of Alexandria, died at the scene. Police said neither of the two tractor-trailer drivers was injured. Manrajbir Singh Kang, 45, of Ashburn, the driver of the first tractor-trailer, was charged with reckless driving. Police said the incident is still under investigation.

“The tractor-trailer was full of frozen chicken when it overturned onto its side, requiring it to be manually unloaded before turning the truck right side up,” said VSP spokesperson Corrine Geller. “That’s what took so long to reopen the interstate to traffic. If you try to upright a full trailer, it will rip in half.”

Officials warn of vote-by-phone scam

The Virginia State Board of Elections is warning Virginia voters of phone calls misleading voters that they can vote over the phone. The SBE says this information is false. Virginia law does not permit voting through the telephone. Apart from voting at the polls on Election Day, eligible Virginians may vote through absentee ballot by mail or in-person at the registrar’s office or other authorized satellite location. However, voting cannot be done via the phone, email, or any other means than absentee voting by mail and in-person during the absentee voting period or on Election Day.

Election officials say that at this point in time, it is unclear how widespread these calls have been. However, the SBE has received several complaints.

The SBE encourages any voter who receives a call matching this description to ask for the name, phone number, and organization from where the individual is calling. Voters should then contact the State Board of Elections at 1-800-552-9745 and provide a staff member with that information.

Police investigate armed robbery in Mt. Vernon

Fairfax County police are investigating an armed robbery at the 7-Eleven at 2405 Fairhaven Ave. Police said three suspects entered the store around 4 a.m. Oct. 22, produced a pistol and demanded money from the clerks.

The clerks complied; the suspects stole money and merchandise and left in an unknown vehicle. There were no injuries, according to police.

The suspects are described as two black females and one black male. All wore full face masks and black, hooded jackets. One woman was heavyset and the other wore blue jeans and a maroon colored top.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Fairfax County Police at 703-691-2131.

Police seek suspect in six sexual assaults

Police in two jurisdictions are searching for a man who they suspect in six different assaults against local women.

The City of Falls Church police department announced Tuesday that they are seeking a man who approached a woman walking with a baby stroller shortly before 4:30 p.m. Oct. 19 in the area of South Maple Avenue and Gibson Street.

Falls Church police said the man approached the woman from behind and forcefully grabbed her buttock area.

“He did not let go until she screamed. The suspect appears to be brazen as this attack occurred in broad daylight,” said Falls Church spokeswoman Susan Finarelli.

Finarelli said the suspect is described as a Hispanic male, approximately 5 feet, 6 inches tall. He has a thin build, his hair is worn short in the back and he may now be clean-shaven. His skin complexion is medium and he was wearing a grey long-sleeve shirt, blue jeans and a red baseball cap.

That red baseball cap is what may tie the man with five previous assaults in Fairfax County.

In the first incident, around 8:30 a.m. Sept. 7, a 26-year-old woman was walking in the area of Old Keene Mill Road and Springfield Boulevard when she heard a whistle. When she reached the 7200 block of Monticello Blvd. a man allegedly grabbed her from behind and fondled her. The man fled. Police said the woman described that suspect as Hispanic, about 5 feet 6 inches tall and wearing a red baseball cap.

Then, around 2:45 p.m. Sept. 18, police said a 16-year-old student was walking on a path in the 6700 block of Metropolitan Center Drive in Springfield when she was grabbed. The suspect allegedly fondled her and ran away. The suspect in that incident was described as a Hispanic male with a thin, black goatee or beard. He wore a red baseball cap, blue jeans, and a white T-shirt.

A 17-year-old girl was then grabbed from behind and fondled around 9 a.m. Sept. 27 in the 5900 block of Erving Street. Police said the woman was walking on the sidewalk when the assault occurred.

Police said the woman described the suspect as either Asian or Hispanic, mid-30s, around 5 feet 8 inches tall with a black, close-cut beard. He wore a blue T-shirt, black cotton sweatpants with a white stripe on each side and a red baseball cap.

In a fourth incident, a 15-year-old girl reported that she was grabbed from behind and fondled around 7:15 p.m. Oct. 2 in the 6200 block of Hibbling Avenue in Springfield. The girl was walking northbound on Hibbling near Exmore Street when the incident occurred. After she was grabbed, she pulled away from the suspect and fled.

Fairfax County police said a fifth fondling victim then came forth in the Springfield area and described a similar incident that took place on Sept. 19.

In that case, a 40-year-old woman reported that she was walking along Hibbling Avenue near Exmore Street when she heard someone behind her. As she turned to see why he didn’t pass, he grabbed and groped her as she struggled free. The suspect then fled. Police did not disclose the time of that incident.

“We are looking into the connection between these assaults and the one in Falls Church,” said Fairfax County Police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell. “Besides the red baseball cap, there are other similarities in the Fairfax County cases, including the fact that many took place during daylight hours.”

Fairfax County police helicopter used to help save two young lives

Fairfax County police say they were alerted to a missing juvenile Oct. 13.

The boy, who police say is autistic, left his Clifton-area home on his scooter around 2 p.m. Family and officers searched the home and neighborhood but did not find the missing boy, police said.

Police say the boy’s family had registered their son with the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office Project Lifesaver Program. He was wearing an electronic bracelet at all times that helps officers locate him in the event of an emergency. With the assistance of the FCPD helicopter, a K-9 team, Fairfax County Sheriff’s deputies and ground patrol officers, a faint transmitter signal was heard that led searchers to a heavily wooded area near Otter Run Court.

After about an hour’s search, officers said they spotted the child waist-deep in the waters of Otter Run creek, looking up and watching the helicopter. Officers allowed the boy to pet the K-9, named Nero, and pulled him quickly to safety. The boy, although very cold and wet, was not seriously injured and did not require hospitalization, police said.

After reuniting the boy with his parents, helicopter officers heard a call for emergency help at 4 p.m. A police officer working at Cox’s Farm had encountered a toddler who was choking and unconscious. Since the crew was in the vicinity, the crew was immediately able to land in the hay field. They quickly rendered aid and flew the child to Inova Fairfax Hospital, rendering care throughout the flight. Police did not disclose the second boy’s condition.

“The outstanding coordination in both of these events demonstrates the cooperation necessary among public safety agencies and personnel. Without it, the outcomes could have been drastically different,” according to Sergeant Mark Smith, the Chief Flight Officer for the FCPD Helicopter Division.