On July 8, authorities said that a woman who had a long history of driving violations registered a blood-alcohol content of more than twice the legal limit (meaning she was driving under the influence) when she rear-ended a pickup truck on the Capital Beltway, causing the truck to go over a guardrail and plummet down a 60-foot embankment, ending up on its roof in Montgomery County, Maryland. The two men traveling in the truck, who were returning home to Virginia from a construction job site, both died in the crash.
Court records say that 33-year-old Kelli R. Loos, who recently has resided in Bethesda, Maryland and Chesapeake, Virginia, was charged with DUI and fleeing the scene of an accident. She recently sent a letter to a judge in a different case citing family issues in an attempt to explain failing to appear in court in June to face charges of driving with a suspended license.
Maryland and Virginia State Police praised a Beltway motorist who witnessed the crash and pursued the Jeep Cherokee Loos was driving into Virginia while contacting the authorities on his cell phone. Virginia State Police say he also witnessed her crash in Virginia as well.
At approximately 11 p.m. on July 7, 39-year-old Gradys Mendoza and Franklin Manzanares were southbound on the Beltway, approaching Virginia.
At the same time, Loos was also southbound on the Beltway. She later informed authorities that she had been at a bar in Maryland, according to 1st Sgt. Neil Johnson of the Virginia State Police.
According to 1st Sgt. Kimberly Smith of the Maryland State Police, Loos’ vehicle veered to the right and collided with the rear of the Nissan pickup truck as they neared Virginia.
Authorities say the collision caused the truck to spin out of control and go airborne over a guardrail. A trail of sheared trees could be followed to the bottom of the embankment where the truck ended up.
Manzanares, the passenger, was trapped inside the truck and pronounced dead at the scene. Smith said Mendoza died in the ambulance en route to the hospital.
Loos did not stop and continued traveling south. The motorist who followed her called the authorities at approximately 10:56 p.m. to report the crash and inform them that the driver was heading into Virginia. According to a Virginia State Police spokeswoman, a Virginia State trooper was scrambled to try and intercept her, but by 11:03 p.m. she had crashed again.
Authorities say the second crash occurred when Loos struck a Virginia highway sign while was trying to exit the Beltway onto Georgetown Pike. Johnson said she was taken into custody at the scene.
Johnson said Loos was taken to Fairfax County jail, where she registered 0.20 on a breath test. She was charged with driving under the influence by the Virginia State Police.
Police in Maryland charged Loos with failure to stop at the scene of an accident involving bodily injury. As of July 8, she was being held in Fairfax jail, pending extradition to Maryland.
In March, police in Montgomery County, Maryland issued Loos multiple citations after a collision. In that crash she was charged with failure to furnish a written ID, driving on a suspended Virginia license, and failure to insure the Jeep.
On June 15, she failed to appear in court on those charges and a warrant was issued for her arrest. She blamed the accident and failure to appear on family issues and having to go out of town for a funeral. She claims she didn’t know her license had been suspended.
Loos was cited in Virginia Beach in November for driving with a suspended license and failure to obey a traffic signal. Additionally, court records show that she has at least six prior speeding and traffic violations in Virginia and North Carolina dating back to 1994.