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Girl, 5, Injured In Hit-and-Run

A 5-year-old Centreville girl remains in critical condition at Inova Fairfax Hospital for Children after being struck by a car last week as she tried to cross Old Centreville Road. The driver was later arrested and charged with felony hit-and-run for allegedly driving away after the incident.

The victim is Ashley Batra of the Crofton Commons community; she is a kindergartner at Bull Run Elementary. Arrested was Duane Thompson, 38, of 14530 Gateshead Lane in Manassas.

Police say the child suffered a "closed head injury" after being struck with Thompson's 1997 Chrysler, last Thursday, May 2, around 8:30 a.m. She was Medevaced to the hospital; authorities there decline to reveal whether she has since regained consciousness.

The accident occurred on Old Centreville Road at Cottingham Lane in Crofton Commons. Police say Thompson reportedly "failed to stop at the scene," but witnesses were able to obtain the car's license-plate number. A police dispatcher then recognized Thompson's name and directed officers to his place of employment, Best Buy in Franconia, where he was arrested.

He was released from the Adult Detention Center, the next day, on $2,500 bond and has a June 5 court date. If convicted, he could be sentenced to as much as five years in prison.

According to police spokesman Ramon Robertson, "[Ashley] was standing with her mom when she saw some friends already at the bus stop, pulled away from her mom and darted out into the street." It happened so quickly, said Bull Run Principal Thom Clement, that "her mother couldn't do anything to stop her."

Clement went to the scene, the next morning, and talked to parents and students at the bus stop to find out more details. "The children told me that [Ashley] had gotten there too late to catch her regular bus that didn't involve her crossing the street," he explained. "About 10 minutes later, there's a bus that comes from the other direction and stops on the other side of the street — and that's the one she was going to take."

Clement also said that the children told him it wasn't the first time Ashley had arrived late for her bus and had to catch the other one. But this time, she wasn't so lucky.

Ashley attends morning kindergarten at Bull Run and, after her accident, Assistant Principal Patricia Phillips wrote a letter to parents advising them what happened and reminding them about safety at the bus stops. Clement said some of the teachers visited Ashley at the hospital and talked to her mother; he said the little girl's head was swollen on one side.

"She's a lively, energetic child," said Clement. "It's just an awful accident. It would be terrible at any age but, when it's such a young child, it hurts even more."

He noted, as well, that parents told him "they're concerned about the speed of the cars there — a lot of which are avoiding Route 28. To me, it seems like a four-way stop would be a good idea there."