Three members of a New Jersey family driving to Culpeper for an "early Thanksgiving" family reunion were killed early yesterday when an allegedly drunk driver slammed into their parked car along Interstate 66 in Fairfax County, Virginia State Police said.
The car, a 1994 Honda Accord carrying four people, had pulled onto the shoulder of westbound I-66 near the Nutley Street exit, police said. A restricted travel lane further separated the stopped car from through traffic, officers said.
Maureen O'Callahan, 41, had been driving, but about 2:45 a.m., she had grown tired and decided to pull over and let her husband drive, according to state police Sgt. Wallace Bouldin.
Tim O'Callahan, 42, climbed out of the Accord; his daughter, Tara O'Callahan, 20, and his nephew John Oldigs, 23, were in the backseat. As Tim O'Callahan watched, Bouldin said, a 2001 Dodge Ram pickup truck smashed into the Accord, destroying it.
Maureen O'Callahan, Tara O'Callahan and Oldigs were pronounced dead at the scene. There was nothing Tim O'Callahan, a veteran fire captain in Jersey City, N.J., could do, Bouldin said.
Police said Jonathan Conner O'Neal, 24, of Delaplane, a firefighter trainee in the District, was driving the pickup. He was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Police charged O'Neal with driving while intoxicated. Bouldin said troopers would meet with Fairfax prosecutors this week to decide whether to add charges of involuntary manslaughter.
The O'Callahans live in Barnegat, N.J., along Barnegat Bay on the central New Jersey shore. Maureen O'Callahan was a professional hairdresser and mother of three children, said a relative who declined to be identified.
She was one of 17 children, and her parents had retired from the military and moved to the Culpeper area, the relative said. In order to celebrate a Thanksgiving with her parents, Maureen O'Callahan and her siblings traveled annually to Culpeper for a "Thanksgiving in October," the relative said.
Maureen and Tim O'Callahan met while attending St. Peter's College in Jersey City, the relative said. After college, Tim O'Callahan became a firefighter. His three brothers are police lieutenants in Jersey City, his father was a lieutenant, and three uncles also served on the Jersey City force.
"He was the first fireman," his relative said. He was said to be in shock yesterday.
Maureen O'Callahan was described as "one of those people who was always reaching out for the family," the relative said. "Always cooking. The welcome mat was always out."
The O'Callahans had moved about 16 years ago from Jersey City to Barnegat, where they raised three children: Maureen, 22, Tara and Caigan, 16.
Tara was a sophomore at Ramapo College in Mahwah, N.J., where she was a shortstop on the varsity softball team. She turned 20 last Monday, her relative said. She loved the outdoors and often went canoeing and hiking in the state's Pine Barrens.
"She was a great competitor, a great athlete," the relative said. "Always had a smile on her face."
John Oldigs, Maureen O'Callahan's nephew, lived in Jersey City. His immediate family was unavailable for comment yesterday
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