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Virginia wrong-way express lane fatal crash kills retired Marine colonel

The fiery crash killed Ken Crosby, Jr., 61, the fleeing driver and her passenger. Police say the driver went the wrong way on the express lanes to avoid a ticket.

DUMFRIES, Va. — Ken Crosby texted his wife at 4:30 p.m. when he left the Pentagon. He said he'd be home soon.

She set the dinner table and waited.

Hours ticked by. His daughter grew increasingly panicked. At 11 p.m., a state trooper showed up at the door.

Retired U.S. Marine Corps. Lt. Col. Kenneth Crosby, Jr. was southbound in the express lanes less than a mile from his exit on I-95 Thursday afternoon when a driver allegedly fleeing state troopers broke through the barrier arms blocking northbound traffic and plowed into him head-on.

RELATED: VSP: 3 dead, traffic stopped for miles after fatal I-95 crash on express lanes near Dale City

On his street in Dumfries Friday, the American and Marine Corp flags flapped in a stiff breeze from nearly every home, and the tears fell quietly. His daughter, Lauren Koontz wept in the driveway as her husband hugged her. This was supposed to be a happy day. 

His grandson just turned 10-months-old.

Credit: Family Photo

"He would do anything for anyone," Koontz said. 

Crosby, 61, spent 24 years in the Marine Corps, flying a Bell AH-1 Cobra helicopter. He served in Desert Storm and he was putting in his retirement papers at the Pentagon on 9/11 loading stranded service members into his truck to drive them home. 

He commanded Marine Corps Air Facility Quantico, where the helicopter squadron that flies the President is based.

Credit: Family Photo

"He was like a live-action hero," neighbor Mike Feldman said. 

Crosby had continued to work at the Pentagon as a civilian employee. 

"It’s a loss for our street community and a loss for the greater community," Feldman said

A Virginia State Police spokeswoman said we may never know why Stephanie Morton, 46, of Richmond, was so desperate to escape troopers that she fled the wrong way onto the express lanes. Corrine Geller told WUSA9 that Morton sped away from two different state troopers trying to get her to pull over.

RELATED: Express Lanes traffic, toll prices drop amid coronavirus outbreak

One tried to stop her for allegedly driving 80 in a 65 on I-95 in Spotsylvania County. That trooper, according to Geller, broke off pursuit within two minutes because traffic was so heavy.

RELATED: Driver arrested after high-speed police chase turned crash in Virginia

She said a second trooper spotted a few miles farther north and chased her because traffic was lighter. Both Porter, and her passenger, Tia Porter, 26, died in the crash.

Virginia State Police policy states: “ When deciding whether to undertake or continue pursuits, sworn employees should consider the potential harm to persons and property arising from the pursuit as well as the potential harm threatened by the escaping offender.” 

Geller said the second trooper did not follow Morton into the express lanes.

Their Dodge was destroyed in the fire, along with any evidence, Geller said, that might explain why she did it.

"She just zipped on there and he had nowhere to go," Feldman said.

We don't know what Col. Crosby thought in his final moments. But neighbors said he died a hero. 

"What happened to Ken saved a lot of other people. That crash was head-on. No telling how many other people would have been affected," Feldman said.

"He was the voice of reason, the rock of the family," Crosby's daughter said. 

At the father-daughter dance at her wedding, she remembers asking him, "'Can I still call you?'" "'Of course,'" she said he replied. Now she doesn't know what she'll do.

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