Recent Crash Demonstrates Threat of Speeding in Virginia Community

Neighbors in one Prince William County, Virginia, community have been fighting to curb speeding on their street for years, but they say a recent crash involving alleged street racing shows just how much of a threat the problem really is.

"They need to do something down here before somebody actually dies," Terry Metcalf told the News4 I-Team.

Metcalf's SUV was parked in his driveway on Featherstone Road May 3 when a car veered off the roadway and slammed into it.

"All we heard was a loud boom, look out and my car is moving," said Metcalf, whose home security cameras captured the whole thing.

The video shows two cars that appear to be racing when they pass another car.

The teen driver narrowly missed a tree before slamming into Metcalf's SUV, parked in his driveway.

"The officer told me [the teen] said he'd been run off the road, and I said, 'Wait, let me run back in the house and see if I have it on video.'"

Then he realized what a close call it really was. He and his wife had just returned home from shopping and went inside instead of unloading the car. The crash happened just four minutes later.

"If I had been in the back of the car pulling the mulch out, I wouldn't be here," said Metcalf. "My anger was overcoming me at that point because I knew this was going to happen."


Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia local news, events and information

Tracking Ian and Getting Mortgage Help in DC: The News4 Rundown

New Metro HQ to Reduce Transit Agency's Costs

The speed limit on the stretch of road is 25 mph, but Metcalf said drivers often double that.

"They're not really hot rods," said Metcalf. "They're just kids with whatever car they're driving."

He has wanted a stop sign or speed hump for years. In 2015, the county conducted a traffic study and declared the road eligible for a speed control measure.

But the News4 I-Team found there's nothing fast about that solution.

Immediately following the crash in May, the homeowners' association president Todd Washam sent a letter to the county supervisor, and it wasn't the first.

He sent the News4 I-Team more than a dozen emails, dating back more than a year, which document his fight to get a speed table installed right near Metcalf's house.

A speed table is basically a longer, flatter speed hump, which slows drivers down but is friendlier for emergency vehicles.

Prince William County found a speed control device was needed during a study in December 2015.

"I spent eight years working for Congress," said Washam. "And I thought they were slow in getting things done."

Featherstone Road belongs to Virginia's Department of Transportation, but Prince William County is responsible for making the improvement.

"County government can't just come into a road and plop something down in the middle of their property, so we have to work with VDOT as well," said county spokesman Jason Grant.

According to Washam's emails, VDOT first denied the speed table, worried about traffic to a nearby marina. Then the marina wrote a letter supporting it.

Next, VDOT argued a speed table would deter use of a nearby park, but the park actually has its own speed table near the entrance.

"It was just insane, it makes no sense," said Washam, adding that he spoke with officials from the county and the state almost weekly.

"Finally, a gentleman from VDOT called me about a year ago, and he said, 'I'm sorry. I didn't realize what was going on in your community and I will start to move forward with this application,'" recalled Washam.

It took Washam another three months to get the required 75 percent of his neighbors to sign off, then the county had to secure funding, and winter temperatures also caused a delay.

"I don't know who the buck stopped with, so I just kept pushing and pushing," Washam said.

Finally last month, the Board of Supervisors approved it, six days after the crash in Metcalf's yard.

"In March is when we advertised we're going to hear this, well before that accident occurs," said Grant. "But certainly it solidifies it's a good thing we're doing this."

In the meantime, police stepped up patrols to slow drivers down, Metcalf said. The crash scared him so much, he now waits until officers are there running radar before he'll mow part of his lawn.

"When we're there, typically nothing's going to happen 'cause they see us," said Prince William County Police Officer Nathan Probus. "Thankfully, we do have some evidence regarding the crash."

Without Metcalf's video, the teen driver wouldn't be charged with street racing. He's also facing reckless driving and child endangerment charges, since his two young siblings were in the back seat during the crash.

"I mean it's just plain stupid," said Metcalf. "If he had been a little bit over this way and hit that tree, I don't think he'd have survived at the speed he was going."

No one in the car was seriously injured.

The county has scheduled installation of the speed table for Friday. Neighbors said they would believe it when they saw it, and crews arrived to install it Friday morning.

"I am pleased to see the speed table has been installed on Featherstone Road," Woodbridge Magisterial District Supervisor Frank J. Principi said in a statement. "It is extremely unfortunate that it has taken this long to address the speeding, but I am hopeful that the enhanced police enforcement, speed study, stop signs, and speed table will prevent speeding on this road. I will continue to work with the residents in the surrounding neighborhoods to install additional traffic calming devices."

Reported by Jodie Fleischer, produced by Rick Yarborough, and shot and edited by Jeff Piper.

Contact Us