Capitol Police have cleared the scene of a fatal single-car crash that propelled a silver SUV into a tree south of the Capitol early Friday morning.
No details have been released on what may have caused the high-speed collision as the driver headed northbound on South Capitol Street. The car hit a large, decorative flower pot — ironically designed to deter crashes and traffic — with such force that the vehicle was flung airborne, ripping branches nearly 30 feet above the ground from two nearby trees.
Updated 6:42 p.m. First responders arriving on the scene around 3 a.m. found the silver SUV vertically wrapped around a tree, about 50 feet from the cracked pot. The force of the crash catapulted pieces of the car into the intersection with D Street Southeast. The Metropolitan Police Department identified the driver, who died in the accident, as 19-year-old Hunter B. Harries of McLean, Va. A toxicology report is “pending autopsy,” said MPD spokesman Hugh Carew.
Debris from the crash, including the SUV’s engine and a car door, littered South Capitol Street and a Capitol barricade. Officers on the scene said car parts had been found on the roof of the nearby Longworth Office Building Parking Garage, where staffers congregated to gawk and photograph the messy accident. D.C. Fire and EMS transported the driver, who was alone in the car, to George Washington Medical Center at 3:28 a.m. with life-threatening injuries.
Lt. Kimberly Schneider, a spokeswoman for the Capitol Police, said investigators were working in conjunction with the MPD on the crash scene investigation. The traffic accident investigation concluded and the streets were reopened in the late afternoon.
Capitol Police redirected traffic on blocks surrounding the scene throughout the morning. The flattened car was pried from the tree around noon.
By 12:30 p.m., a grounds crew from the Architect of the Capitol had dealt with most of the debris. The team worked quickly, wielding leaf blowers, chainsaws and rakes to clear the damaged tree limbs and debris.
Ten hours after the crash, only South Capitol Street between C and D streets Southeast remained closed for accident cleanup. All other roads were clear.