Snowstorm Ticket On GW Parkway Sparks Outrage

7:48 PM, Mar 13, 2011   |    comments
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BETHESDA, Md.  (WUSA) -- "Very scared. But we had to. We were very hungry," said Linda Hadley referring to why she got a ticket on the George Washington Parkway during the epic snowstorm of January 26th.

Hadley and her husband Clarke Hughes had picked up her niece and the niece's five-year-old child from the airport.

"We sat in the car for five hours. I was running out of gas. I had a five-year-old child wanting to go to the bathroom, hungry and crying uncontrollably. And worst of all, I am a diabetic and needed my medicine," said Hadley.

Her husband, Clarke Hughes, recalled, "I was looking at the gas tank. I got out of the car and all I could see was taillights for miles. I said, 'Oh, we're going be in trouble.'"

Both Clarke and Linda are diabetic, and Linda felt herself feeling weak and shaky. They saw other drivers, mostly in SUVs, crossing the median and doing U-turns from the northbound lanes, which were clogged, to the southbound  lanes, which were clear.

In Linda's Honda CRV, they followed in the tracks of another SUV. Seconds later, U.S. Park Police Officer R.M. Thomas pulled them over along with the other U-turners and wrote Linda a ticket for $150.

"All we needed was help, and he compounded the problem," said Hughes.

Clarke and Linda were in constant communication with her supervisor, Elma Galimba. "I'm like, 'What? What ticket. I think it's outrageous,'" she said.

Elma convinced Linda to write a letter to the Park Police which reads in part, "I am a 63-year-old. I am a law abiding citizen. I do not do this in my normal day. I and many other motorists that day do not deserve this. The officer should have been more helpful and compassionate."

U.S. Park Police Sgt. David Schlosser says officers helped many people that night but also wrote several tickets to people crossing the median.

"When people are cutting across the median strip, the cars that are able to come southbound are going to be surprised by a vehicle coming out of nowhere and can cause crashes," said Sgt. Schlosser.

Sgt. Schlosser says an officer, who was trying to bring a tree-trimming crew, was almost run over by someone crossing the median.

Still, Linda thinks they went overboard and is fighting the ticket.

Written by Peggy Fox

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