D.C. Fire Official Hit Boy on Street

A top D.C. fire official last week hit an 11-year-old boy in a crosswalk and left the scene before police investigated the accident, city records show.

It is not clear whether Deputy Fire Chief Beatrice Rudder fully followed procedures in reporting her March 15 accident. Fire and police department reports on the incident bear inconsistencies that officials could not resolve yesterday.

Chief Rudder, 51, was driving west on G Street NE in a fire department-owned Ford Excursion on official business about 3:35 p.m. last Tuesday, according to a police report. She turned left onto Ninth Street NE, was blinded by sun glare and struck an 11-year-old in the crosswalk. She called for emergency medical services via radio.

The boy, who suffered minor injuries, was transported to Children's Hospital, where he was admitted overnight for observation.

According to two fire and emergency medical services employees at the scene, a fire official reminded Chief Rudder at least once that the department's general orders required her to notify the Metropolitan Police Department and a battalion chief about the accident.

It could not be determined yesterday whether the police department was notified of the accident soon after it had occurred.

Chief Rudder called emergency dispatchers over her radio and "made the assumption they were going to notify the police," said Assistant Chief James B. Martin, Chief Rudder's immediate supervisor and the department's second-ranking officer.

No police were on the scene, and Chief Rudder left before police investigated the accident, according to a police report and fire officials.

Fire officials said yesterday that they were not initially aware that no police officer went to the scene to investigate. But they said they were satisfied that Chief Rudder followed departmental procedures in reporting the accident.

"From the onset of the incident, it looks as if the procedures were followed," Chief Martin said.

However, he said it was clearly a violation of department policy for Chief Rudder to leave the scene before police arrived.

A police spokesman said leaving the scene of an accident is an "arrestable" misdemeanor offense.

Chief Martin said he and other department officials would review the audio tapes of Chief Rudder's call to communications to verify that she followed proper procedures.

"If the tapes prove her wrong, she will get the same punishment as anyone would," he said, adding that Chief Rudder's driving privileges had been suspended.

Chief Rudder did not return a message left on her cell phone yesterday.

Chief Martin said Chief Rudder visited the child at the hospital and then went to a police station to see whether a report had been filed. When she learned there was no police report, she filed a report, which was entered into department computers just past 11 p.m., he said.

The report indicates that the accident occurred in the 5th Police District and was reported to a 5th District officer. However, the accident occurred in the 1st District.

The Washington Times has obtained a copy of the report.

According to the report, no charges were filed and Chief Rudder was not cited in the accident. The report says an investigation is pending. A police spokesman said yesterday that the status of that investigation could not be determined.

The boy's father, Ron Kenney, told The Times that no one contacted him or his family about a police report and that he was unable to find the report at the 1st District when he requested it to be reimbursed for his son's medical expenses.

Mr. Kenney said his son suffered minor injuries and was on crutches for a few days.

He said it was only yesterday when he contacted the 1st District's hit-and-run investigation team that the report was located in the 5th District.

Chief Rudder joined the department in 1978 and was the first woman to complete firefighter training in the District. She was one of three finalists for the fire chief's job in 2002, after Chief Ronnie Few resigned.

Loading