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Rainy Night Leaves One Dead in Accident

Pedestrian did not cross at crosswalk, pronounced dead at scene

The April 9 death of a Silver Spring, Md. woman in the Town of Herndon is no less tragic, but explainable due to the Herndon Police Department reconstruction unit and the cooperation of the town’s Public Works Department.

Cynthia Tossou, 47, of Silver Spring was attempting to cross the street at about the 950 Herndon Parkway location before 8:45 p.m. when a motorist driving a Dodge Caravan westbound on Herndon Parkway struck her. She was pronounced dead at the scene by the Fairfax County medical examiner, said Herndon Police Captain Larry Presgrave. He was on the scene that evening, having been notified while attending the Herndon Town Council public hearing.

The husband of the victim was notified as next of kin, however, his name would not be released by the HPD, said Senior Sgt. Donald W. Amos.

Although the investigation is not complete as of April 16, the driver of the Dodge Caravan, a 46-year-old male residing in the Town of Herndon has not been charged. When no charges are made, the name is not released, Amos said. He added that neither alcohol nor speed were being considered as possible causes of the accident that occurred on a night where weather conditions may have played a role.

A LIGHT RAIN caused the road to be slick, making the investigation more challenging, said HPD Sgt. Larry Whitmer, who led the reconstruction team in the investigation of the fatal accident. Whitmer and three other officers worked at the accident scene that night, as the body of the victim remained covered in a white sheet on the pavement. The section of Herndon Parkway where the accident occurred remained closed from the time HPD arrived at 8:45 p.m. until past midnight.

Scattered about the road were the victim’s personal belongings including her shoes, the first 22 to 24 feet from the body and the second about 24 feet from the first shoe. "That’s not uncommon to see shoes like that," said Presgrave. What was believed to be the victim’s purse was about 65 to 70 feet from the shoes.

Part of the reconstruction team’s work involved using bright yellow tape to measure the distance from the body to where the items were found. From faint skid marks, due to the wet road, the van was determined to have stopped about 80 feet from where the victim’s body lay, said Presgrave.

Based upon the reconstruction work, HPD determined the driver of the Dodge Caravan was moving at about 25 miles per hour, said Amos. Another part of the investigation includes inspecting the vehicle for defects or faulty equipment such as brakes. No defects or faulty equipment were discovered, said Amos.

IN ADDITION to the eight police vehicles and one fire truck that responded to the call, five public works vehicles were on the scene. Two to four of the police vehicles remained on the scene throughout the investigation at the far ends of the section of Herndon Parkway that had been closed to keep other vehicles from disturbing the scene’s integrity during the reconstruction work.

One public works vehicle contained the 30-foot light tower with four lights that allowed the HPD to do its night work. The town owns one such tower, which cost about $10,000, said Sonny Lynch from public works. The town also owns three portable light towers with two lights each that are 12-feet tall that cost about $1,500 each, said Lynch. Public works vehicles were also used to set up the detour and block off the roads with the police vehicles.