Updated: 4:36 p.m.
The car fire that led to the sudden death of Ashley Turton was caused by the impact after a low-speed crash, according to the major crash investigation unit of the Metropolitan Police Department.
“It’s quite possible that the victim was maneuvering the car and came in contact with some kind of flammable chemical materials,” D.C. Fire spokesman Pete Piringer said.
Turton, 37, was the former chief of staff to Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and wife of White House liaison to the House of Representatives Dan Turton. She worked as a lobbyist for the Raleigh, N.C.-based utility giant Progress Energy.
Turton was found dead in her car Monday morning, which was discovered ablaze in a row house garage, presumably the Turton home, in the 800 block of A Street Southeast near Eastern Market.
Police said there was a heavy fire in the garage at 4:45 a.m. that caused significant damage to the 2008 BMW X5, which was partially backed out into the driveway and looked singed. Fire damage could also be seen on a corner of the brick home Monday.
When the fire was extinguished, firefighters discovered Turton’s body inside the car.
At 9 a.m. Monday, two fire trucks were at the scene in addition to nearly a half-dozen police cars. Neighbors and passers-by stood outside as police continued to survey the wreckage in the garage attached to Turton’s home.
Turton’s neighbors were in mourning following her unexpected death. Julie Domenick, a lobbyist who lives on the Turton’s block, said the entire neighborhood would mourn her death.
“I, of course, was aware of Ashley’s impressive professional legacy, but I also knew Ashley as a charming, spectacular, neighborhood mom who herded her three adorable, curious young children ... with great skill and even more love,” Domenick said. “This neighborhood is going to miss Ashley terribly. It leaves a hole in our hearts and a sadness on our block. Our prayers are with Dan, their children and their families.”
Turton’s co-worker and friend Caroline Choi, executive director of environmental services and strategy, was too choked up to comment on her death Monday afternoon.
Brian Wolff, a lobbyist at Edison Electric Institute and close friend of Turton’s, called her death devastating.
“She was just a gift,” he said. “It’s such a loss for everyone. So many people knew and loved her.” Turton is survived by her husband Dan, 43, twin 4-year-olds and a 2-year-old.