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Man Charged in Fatal Hit-and-Run

A 23-year-old Centreville man is being held without bond in the Washington, D.C. jail after being charged in connection with the hit-and-run death, Monday, of a 50-year-old Leesburg woman.

D.C. Metropolitan police charged Juan Miguel Mendez of 6767 Jenny Leigh Court in the Clifton Townes community with negligent homicide, leaving after colliding (with injuries), no operator's permit and failing to yield the right of way to a pedestrian.

The tragedy occurred around 1:38 p.m. Police say Mendez was driving a white, 2000 Chevrolet van southbound on Connecticut Avenue and L St., N.W., and, after the traffic signal turned green for southbound traffic, his vehicle entered the intersection and struck the woman, who was crossing eastbound within the south crosswalk.

"After striking the pedestrian, the defendant accelerated the vehicle and ran over the [woman's] body," said a D.C. police officer during Mendez' arraignment, Tuesday afternoon. "The defendant then drove at a high rate of speed southbound on Connecticut Avenue and passed a red traffic signal at K Street NW."

Police broadcast a lookout for the van but, as it turned out, it was actually stopped by horrified witnesses to the accident who chased after it on foot and by bicycle. "Several citizens pursued the defendant from the collision scene," said the officer. "He was subsequently stopped and blocked in by citizens, as well as police, at 12th and E Street NW."

The victim was identified as Denise Marguerite Henderson. She was transported from the scene to George Washington University Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, a short time later.

Meanwhile, Mendez was taken into custody and charged. He's scheduled for a preliminary hearing, next Tuesday, Sept. 23, in D.C. Superior Court.