A Dale City man and a Springfield woman have been identified as two of the three victims of Wednesday's three-car pile-up on Backlick Road.
The crash at Backlick Road and Fullerton Road killed James A. Cetto, 39, of 4656 Evansdale Road in Dale City, and Katherine F. Miller, 52, of 7207 Evanston Road in Springfield, who suffered significant head trauma and died at the scene. Cetto's 41-year-old male passenger was ejected and also died at the scene, but his identity has not been released pending next of kin notification.
The accident occurred at around 6:00 p.m., according to Fairfax County Fire & Rescue. Cetto and his passenger, both of whom did not wear seatbelts, drove in a Toyota pickup truck southbound along Backlick Road when the truck drove over the median and into oncoming traffic.
The Toyota struck two other vehicles, a Jeep Cherokee and Oldsmobile sedan. Miller, the driver of the Jeep, was wearing her seat belt. The 47-year-old male driver of the Oldsmobile also wore his seatbelt and did not require medical attention.
"It looks like [Cello] driving a Toyota pickup truck was driving southbound on Backlick Road. He had a passenger in his vehicle. For reasons yet to be determined, he crossed the median into oncoming traffic," said Fairfax County Police spokesperson Tawny Wright. "The pickup truck struck a Jeep Cherokee and an Oldsmobile sedan. It came to rest on the northbound lanes against the guardrail. The two occupants of the pickup truck were pronounced dead at the scene. A woman was driving the Jeep Cherokee and was pronounced dead at the hospital."
Crash reconstruction detectives are investigating to see whether speed or alcohol were factors.
"All of a sudden we heard a boom," said witness J.T. Smith, a collision estimator for Springmall Auto Body, 7708 Backlick Road. "I work for an auto body shop, so I know what the boom is. Usually we have accidents quite often out here, but I didn't see anyone here [in front of the body shop]. All I saw was a Jeep and an Oldsmobile. As soon as I got halfway there, that's when I saw the overturned vehicle.
"It almost looked like that vehicle went head-over-heels," Smith said. "I saw a body on the pavement and I hollered back to my guys that we've got an overturned vehicle. I ran to the Jeep, which was the closest vehicle to me, and I see a lady lying in the passenger-side rear seat, and her hands were resting on the passenger-side front seat…."
At that point, Smith called 9-1-1. "One of my co-workers came up behind me and opened the door and that's when we saw what condition she was in," he said.
Smith said that a dispatcher asked if he could perform CPR but he relayed that it would not be possible, that the passenger was beyond hope.
Another witness, Iyad Kwaik of Kwaik Auto Body, 7706 Backlick Road, was leaving work when he heard the accident. Kwaik assisted two passengers until police arrived.
"I was coming out of this intersection, making a right, when I heard a big explosion and I looked to the side and I saw this truck flip three or four times and the guy flew out of the vehicle," Kwaik said. "Every couple of months, an accident happens here, and I've been here about five years, and this is the worst accident I've ever seen... I couldn't believe it."