Ruby Whitfield, Florida Avenue hit-and-run victim, dies
Updated: March 22, 2013 - 06:35 pm
The man accused in a fatal hit-and-run on Florida Avenue Thursday night had been drinking and may have been talking on a cell phone at the time of the crash, a police report says.
MPD officials allege that Joel Browmell, a 32-year-old Annapolis native, had at least two drinks at a downtown Washington night club before he struck and killed Ruby Whitfield, a Northeast D.C. resident, before fleeing the scene.
Bromwell will be held without bond on voluntary manslaughter charges, a judge ruled Friday afternoon. He'll be back in court on Monday morning.
Whitfield was struck and killed Thursday night as she was leaving a church meeting in the 1100 block of Florida Avenue NE. An usher at the church, Whitfield was crossing Florida Avenue when she was hit inside the crosswalk.
The police report filed in connection to the crash says that at about 8:15 p.m., Bromwell was seen by witnesses driving his Mercury Mountaineer near the corner of Florida Avenue and 12th Street NE at a high rate of speed. Police say he then hit Whitfield without slowing down, dragging her 86 feet.
While he was stopped at a nearby red light, a passer-by advised him that he had hit someone and should to return to the scene. The witness told police that when he talked to Bromwell, the suspect was wearing earbuds in both ears and was talking on a cell phone. Shortly after the witness turned around, though, Bromwell sped off.
About five minutes later and 10 blocks away, Browmell and his car were found. Police say that the suspect told them he had just been at the Cobalt Club in downtown Washington before the crash and had two drinks. The report also says that Bromwell had an odor of alcohol, his eyes were bloodshot and his speech was slurred.
He then told police, according to the report, that he felt the bump and knew he had hit something, but panicked and drove away instead of returning to the scene of the crash. He was then arrested after police say he failed a field sobriety test.
On Friday, he was ordered held without bond.
Members of New Samaritan Church are stunned. They say they had just had an ushers meeting to get ready for Palm Sunday and Easter.
They also say they had been trying to get a traffic light at the intersection for years.
The church's pastor says the woman was beloved at New Samaritan.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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