It's been five months since a 23-year-old Clifton woman was killed in a horrendous, head-on crash on I-66. But now the person police believe is responsible for her death has been charged with aggravated manslaughter and is set to stand trial in October.
The victim was Rawand Manuel Hirezi, and the person accused of causing the accident that took her life is Christina Maria Peele, 29, of Front Royal.
THE TRAGEDY occurred April 1, around 2:10 a.m., on westbound I-66. Hirezi was riding in a 2006 Honda Civic driven by Hootan Moeirzadeh, 27, of the Buckley's Reserve community in Fairfax. Both were wearing seatbelts, but that couldn't protect them from a vehicle with no headlights on, coming straight at them — and traveling the wrong way on the road.
Hirezi, the front-seat passenger, died at the scene. The Virginia State Police identified Peele as the driver of the dark green, 1994 Ford Explorer that slammed into her and Moeirzadeh. Peele's brother William, 26, was her right-front passenger. And neither the Peeles nor Moeirzadeh were seriously injured.
The impact happened 3/10 of a mile east of I-495 and, according to police, Peele was allegedly driving east on I-66 in the westbound lanes when her vehicle struck the Honda. After further investigation, police determined that the fatal crash apparently wasn't Peele's only collision that morning.
"We have information that suggests that the dark green Ford Explorer may have collided with a red vehicle a couple miles before it struck the Honda," said Trooper Frederick A. Richens, who responded to the scene. Earlier, say police, Peele's SUV had spun out in the westbound lanes of I-66 and come to a stop in the center median strip.
According to police, "At least three vehicles, including a taxi, pulled over to offer assistance to Peele. However, moments after being approached, Peele pulled back into traffic and began traveling the wrong way in the westbound lanes. Within minutes, she struck the Honda Civic."
Believing that Peele may have had illegal drugs in her system at the time of the fatal crash, on April 14 Richens wrote an affidavit for a warrant to obtain "all medical records generated for Christina Peele by Inova Fairfax Hospital personnel pertaining to her emergency treatment on April 1."
Richens also noted that, at the hospital, "Christina Peele appeared disoriented and was not aware of the circumstances surrounding the accident. [She] claimed she had no idea she had been driving eastbound in the westbound travel lanes."
Furthermore, he wrote that "Christina Peele has a long history of drug abuse, which includes the use of cocaine and PCP, [and she's] currently on probation in Virginia for possession of a controlled substance."
THE TROOPER later obtained Peele's medical records and, on May 22, a Fairfax County grand jury indicted her on a charge of involuntary manslaughter. However, things have changed since then.
Before Circuit Court Judge Terrence Ney, on Aug. 11 — on the Commonwealth's motion — the involuntary manslaughter charge against Peele was dropped. However, that was just a prelude to what came next.
Ten days later, on Aug. 21, the grand jury re-indicted Peele; but this time, it was on a new and more severe charge of aggravated manslaughter. She's now scheduled for an Oct. 23 jury trial in Circuit Court.