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Woman Sentenced to Six Months in DWI Hit-and-Run on W&OD Trail

Mehak Chopra of McLean, 29, struck Vienna cyclist Joseph Suriol, 65, while mistakenly driving on the trail.

A woman who pleaded guilty to a DWI and hit and run charges was sentenced Tuesday; Patch archive photo
A woman who pleaded guilty to a DWI and hit and run charges was sentenced Tuesday; Patch archive photo
A female motorist who hit a Vienna cyclist on the W&OD Trail last June was sentenced to six months in prison Tuesday, according to The Washington Post.

She pleaded guilty to misdemeanor driving while intoxicated and hit-and-run charges after reaching a deal with Fairfax County prosecutors to avoid a more serious felony charge, The Post reported.

Mehak Chopra, 29, reportedly had been drinking wine Saturday, June 1, before getting behind the wheel of her 2005 Toyota and entering the popular bike and jogging trail somewhere around Reston. Police said last year they believed Chopra was driving at speeds up to 50 MPH for about five miles on the trail.

After hitting Joseph Suriol, 65, of Vienna, she exited the trail at Maple Avenue in Vienna and was pulled over. Suriol was thrown from his bicycle and landed on the shoulder of the trail, a spokeswoman from Fairfax County Police said at the time.

Several witnesses wrote to Patch last year about their experience, which left them rattled, worried about the cyclist and thankful they didn't become victims as well.

Veronica Spina was walking her dog near Church Street when she saw the car "coming very fast."

"At first I thought it was a police car. Then when I saw how fast it was coming and swurving [sic] down the path, I had to jump into the bushes (full of poison ivy) with my little cockapoo to avoid getting hit. It missed me by less than a foot. I feel very lucky to be alive today," she wrote.

Witnesses recalled seeing the car anywhere from Creek Crossing to Mill Street, some of them by themselves but others with several children in tow.

Jeffrey Mosher was on the trail with his two kids and their friend a bit west of Creeks Crossing and walking east toward Vienna.

"The car came up behind us ... doing about 40mph and we jumped into the bushes. The car slipped off the trail onto the gravel and almost went out of control. My daughter was still scared over a half hour later. A very scary sight indeed!" he wrote.

Veronique Klimonda said she and her boyfriend were at the Town Green when the car came down the bike trail and turned left onto Maple Avenue.

"We heard a loud noise and then saw a car barreling down the trail at a high speed. The driver, a young woman, hit an object at the intersection before suddenly turning left and almost causing a crash on Maple. We think she blew a tire just before turning."

Suriol told the Post Tuesday he was disappointed that Chopra was only charged with a misdemeanor.
R. May 11, 2014 at 07:43 AM
As tough as VA police are on drunk drivers, 6 months in jail seems like a paltry sentence for this young drunk. 1) She was driving drunk. 2) She was driving on a trail where cars are expressly forbidden. 3) She seriously harmed one man and she could have harmed or killed several others. 4) She took off after having done so. I'd say 6 years in jail would have been amore appropriate sentence. Did Daddy pay off the judge?
Stephen Sachs May 11, 2014 at 08:21 AM
This sentence seems light in view of the possible carnage Chopra could have caused and the sentence may not serve as a serious deterrent.
Judith Andersen May 31, 2014 at 07:59 PM
I agree that it is too light a sentence. I don't think 29 is particularly young, either. Old enough to know better. She is a very lucky woman not to have killed someone and received an involuntary manslaughter sentence. That would have blighted a lot of lives.
Jerry King June 01, 2014 at 11:21 AM
I agree 6 years would have been appropriate. Was the judge not thinking? You have to make people responsible. You have to make the punishment fit the crime. Too many dead pedestrians and cyclists at the hand of irresponsible drivers.

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