Jennifer Lawson: Truck driver charged in death

ARLINGTON, Va. (WJLA) - The driver of a commercial dump truck that killed Arlington mother of three Jennifer Lawson has been charged in her death, police said Friday.

Thirty-three-year-old Marvin Valladares of Manassas, Va. has been charged with a traffic infraction due to failure to pay full time and attention after his dump truck came driving by, striking the minivan’s open sliding door, which then fatally struck Lawson.

Word spread quickly throughout the community that the driver was only cited for an infraction – and residents are surprised.

The accident took place outside Nottingham Elementary School on Little Falls Road in Arlington on Feb. 24. Police say that Valladares was not talking or texting on his phone at the time, and testing showed that he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Speed was also not a factor.

Arlington Police did an extensive investigation of the case for nearly six weeks, with the cooperation of Valladeres.

"We looked at a myriad of charges, [and] the only charge that appeared to be appropriate that the evidence would support was the failure to devote full time and attention while driving," said Arlington Police Deputy Chief Dan Murray. "It's absolutely undisputed that this is a terrible tragedy...this is a tragedy for everybody."

Though the maximum penalty is a $100 fine and 10 days in jail, many here in the neighborhood tell us he has already been punished:

"it's hard to live after that," said John Hunt.

"If an accident like that happened and I was involved -- responsible or involved in it -- I would feel really terrible," added Dan Hurwitz.

Police said 39-year-old Lawson was leaning in to pull her baby out of the car when Valladares' truck came rolling down the narrow street. Lawson was reported in critical condition immediately after the accident, and was reported to have died from her injuries around 5:30 p.m. that day.

ABC7 spoke with residents of the neighborhood, who said motorists routinely drive way too fast coming down Little Falls Road, which is somewhat narrow.

“My concern going forward, is what can we do to get people to stop speeding on this street," said one concerned resident.

Miraculously, though the back door of Lawson's van was torn off in the accident, the child in the back seat was not hurt. According to police, Valladares stopped his truck and stayed on the scene until help arrived.

Locals said Lawson lived just blocks from the school where the accident happened, and that one of her three children was a student there. She also attended a nearby church.

Valladares' court date is set for April 18, 2014 at 2 p.m.

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