Vienna Police apprehended an intoxicated McLean woman Saturday, after she drove her car at a high rate of speed for five miles down the Washington & Old Dominion trail on Saturday May 31, 2013, at about 8:30 PM. The incident caused a number of W&OD Trail users to flee for their own safety from the oncoming car. The car actually struck and seriously injured a bicyclist, according to Vienna Police, who later apprehended the driver as she pulled into traffic on Maple Ave. in downtown Vienna.
Mehak Chopra, 28, the driver involved in the ordeal, was arrested about 8:30 p.m. in Vienna, close to the intersection of the Washington & Old Dominion Trail and Maple Avenue, Fairfax County police said. Chopra was immediately charged with driving while intoxicated and felony hit-and-run. She is still in jail pending arraignment as of Monday, June 3, 2013.
Police said a 65-year-old Vienna man who was riding a bike on the trail was struck by the Chopra car, from behind, a short distance west of the Vienna town limits. The bicyclist was thrown to the shoulder of the trail by the impact with his bike. Police have not named the man, and his condition is unknown as of today.
The W&OD trail runs east to west, from Arlington to Purcellville. Some stretches of the trail can be packed with joggers and bicyclists, especially during the weekend. Police said they think Chopra drove her 2005 Honda and entered the trail somewhere near the Reston area, heading east. The W & OD trail between Reston and Vienna is about 10 feet wide. It is also paved with asphalt, but only wide enough to accommodate a single vehicle for service and maintenance purposes, not high speed driving.
As the car drove toward Vienna, police said they received multiple calls from trail users who said they had nearly been hit by a speeding vehicle.
Fairfax resident Veronique Klimonda, 55, was sitting on a park bench near Maple Ave in Vienna, when the car raced past and stopped briefly after it struck something at the intersection. The car then darted into traffic on Maple Ave., turning northeast toward Tysons Corner.
The driver “was looking straight ahead, hands gripping the steering wheel, just totally oblivious,” Klimonda said. “It was quite obvious she was not there. She was somewhere else in her head.”
Chopra was stopped and arrested about two blocks away.
Officer Gary Lose, a spokesman for Vienna police, said he did not know of another instance of a driver traveling an extended distance on the trail.
Lose estimated that 40 or 50 people were using the trail in the Vienna area when the car drove through.