More than three months have passed since an unknown driver killed a Chantilly father of three on the Fairfax County Parkway. And Emeka Nwosu's widow is still seeking answers for her husband's tragic death.
"I have so many questions," she said. "Why did this man do this? Why did he not help him? Why did he just go away?" If the hit-and-run driver had at least called someone and sent help to her husband, she said, he might have lived long enough to say goodbye to his children in the hospital.
As it was, though, Nwosu, 48, of Chantilly's Winding Brook community, died alone on the road, in the early-morning hours of Feb. 23. He left behind his wife of 15 years, Nchekwube "Edith," an eighth-grade science teacher at Stone Middle School, and their three children, sons Emeka Jr., 13, and Nzube, 10, and daughter Chinwe, 9.
A native of Nigeria, Nwosu came to the U.S. in 1984 and later obtained a masters in civil engineering. A Fairfax County employee, he reviewed both commercial and residential site plans for the Environmental and Facilities Review Division.
On the night of Feb. 22, he drove to Woodbridge and picked up a friend. Then they went together in the friend's car and paid a condolence call to someone from his home state of Anambra, in eastern Nigeria, who'd lost a relative.
Returning to Woodbridge, around 1 a.m., Nwosu picked up his car, got onto the county parkway and headed for home. But just north of Burke Centre Parkway, his Toyota Camry started giving him trouble, so he pulled over to the right northbound shoulder of the county parkway and stopped. He phoned a few friends for help and waited.
According to Fairfax County police, he was on the passenger side of his car, around 2:15 a.m., when a vehicle believed to be a Ford F-250 or F-350 Super Duty pickup truck smashed into the rear end of his car. The impact ejected Nwosu and pushed his car several yards before it flipped over.
THE DRIVER FLED, traveling north on the county parkway. Police say the truck was painted "Toreador Red" (burgundy tones), and they urge anyone with information about the crash, the truck or its driver to call police at 703-691-2131 or Crime Solvers at 800-673-2777.
Besides a $1,000 reward being offered by Crime Solvers, a reward of $5,000 is also being offered by a Nigerian group, the Friendship Association, for information leading to an arrest and indictment. Callers do not have to appear in court and may remain anonymous.
"The whole thing still feels like a nightmare," said Nwosu's widow, Edith. "It's been really difficult."
When the tragedy occurred, she said, she'd woken up in the middle of the night, wondering why her husband wasn't home, yet. "Around 5 o'clock, I got really worried," she said. "I started calling his friends." Then, because the children had to go to school and she had an early-morning meeting, she began getting everyone up and ready.
Still, said Edith, "I wondered if he'd been in an accident; I was confused about where he was. I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know he was dead. When the doorbell rang, around 7 a.m., I ran to answer it — I thought it was him."
Instead, she found a policeman on her doorstep. When the officer shook his head, she asked if her husband had been in an accident. He said yes, and she asked if Emeka was in the hospital. The officer replied, "No, ma'am, he's dead."
"I said, 'Have you come to the right house?'" she recalled. "And he showed me Emeka's driver's license, and I screamed. I couldn't believe he was dead. When he left here, he was healthy and strong."
Since then, family and friends have done their best to console the grieving Nwosus, and members of their church, Ox Hill Baptist, have brought them meals. But the anguish remains.
"A big vacuum has been created," said Edith. "The children miss their father dearly. They were so close. He took them to their games and practices. He liked taking them places and making them happy. He made arrangements to take them to Virginia Beach and King's Dominion, this summer, and now he's not here to go with them."
In the twinkling of an eye, she said, their lives were turned upside down and irrevocably changed. "It's so disturbing that somebody can do such a thing and get away free," said Edith. "The children deserve to know why [the driver] did this to their father."
"THEY PRAY and say, 'God, please take care of my daddy,'" she continued. "It's been hard for them, and also for me. But I have to be strong for them because, if I break down, they'll feel there's no hope [in their lives]."
Last Thursday afternoon, May 27, Edith Nwosu and police personnel held a press conference at the scene of the fatality to renew awareness of the tragedy and place it again in the public eye. "The police called me and asked if I could come out," she said. "I was thinking they'd found the person."
That wasn't the case, but Nwosu's widow hopes that something or someone will eventually lead police to the hit-and-run driver. "My prayer is that this person will be caught or will come forward," she said. "I know it won't bring Emeka back to life, but maybe it will help the children and me heal." In the meantime, she added, "Every day, we ask God for the strength and wisdom to move on."
Added police spokesman Bud Walker: "We're not just talking about one victim. We're talking about a web of tragedy — one person whose death affected an entire community."
A fund has been established for the Nwosus' children. Contributions payable to the Emeka, Nzubechukwu and Chinwe Nwosu Benefit Fund may be sent to that fund name, c/o Bank of America, 12011 Lee Jackson Memorial Hwy., Fairfax, VA 22033.