Silver Spring Man, James Chandler, Facing Involuntary Manslaughter Charge in Violent D.C. Crash

A 33-year-old Silver Spring man with a history of violations on his driving records is facing involuntary manslaughter charges following a fatal crash in downtown D.C. Monday.

Court documents obtained by News4 document a dangerous and violent series of events that began with the driver, James Chandler, speeding through H Street NW just before 5 p.m.

Police said Chandler sideswiped a car, then fled the scene, struck a second car from behind, and kept driving on H Street toward 4th Street NW. Chandler then drove in the wrong lanes, traveled diagonally across the intersection, struck a traffic light, construction sign, three newspaper dispenser boxes and a retaining marble wall in front of the  U.S. Government Accountability Office, documents said.

"I just heard an explosion, a large crash," witness Randi Berkovsky said.

After hitting the marble wall, his SUV flipped and rolled several times along a sidewalk, crushing 27-year-old Philip Snodgrass, who died from massive blunt force trauma. Snodgrass worked with the National Federation of Federal Employees as an assistant general counsel. 

"[Philip] was a very compassionate, loving young man who had tremendous promise," his father, Jeff Snodgrass, told News4. "He was one of these people who was doing all the right things."

Snodgrass was on his way to Georgetown Law Center, where he attended night classes and worked toward a Doctorate degree when the accident occurred. 

Another pedestrian was struck by crash debris and suffered minor injuries. 

Documents said Chandler made no effort to use his brakes during the incident, and had been traveling approximately 65 mph in a 25 mph zone.

"I just feel very blessed because I walked by the scene probably 15 or 20 seconds before it happened and I really could have been one of those pedestrians," Berkovsky said.

Police officers who interviewed Chandler after the crash said he appeared unfocused and slow-moving, consistent with drug use. Chandler wouldn't say whether he had used PCP in that instance, but said he had smoked it in the past.

He told police he bought a $5 cigarette prior to the crash at a gas station on New York Avenue, which is the last thing he said remembered until he woke up in the hospital hospital. Chandler also told police he had recently undergone dental surgery, and was taking Motrin, Percocet and an anti-biotic, as well as Tripatol, Lexapro and Aderrall.

Chandler was in court Tuesday and ordered behind bars without bond. He's due in court March 7.

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