Family petitions to rename Fairfax Co. road after daughter’s fatal crash helped spur safety changes

In January 2023, 16-year-old Ariana Haftsavar was killed when the 2019 Lexus IS350 she was riding in left the road and rolled over. Her father tells WTOP Lee Chapel Road has been the site of many crashes. (Courtesy Bahman Haftsavar)

A year-and-a-half after his daughter died in a crash on a treacherous stretch of Lee Chapel Road in Fairfax County, Virginia, a grieving father is petitioning to change the road’s name to reflect his daughter’s role in upcoming safety changes.

Bahman Haftsavar tells WTOP Lee Chapel Road has been the site of so many crashes, that the mention of the name brings pain and bad memories to many. He is supporting a petition to rename the road “Ariana’s Way.”

“I don’t know why they haven’t changed it yet, but it’s time,” Haftsavar said. “This road had so many accidents, and so many tragedies brought to the family’s lives.”

In January 2023, his 16-year-old daughter Ariana, and driver Ashlyn Brotemarkle, were killed when the 2019 Lexus IS350 they were riding in left the road and rolled over. At the time, police said the vehicle had been traveling 100 miles per hour shortly before the car became airborne.

In September 2023, Springfield district supervisor Pat Herrity told WTOP the county had secured state funding to remove hills and improve sight lines along Lee Chapel Road between Ox Road and Fairfax County Parkway. In July, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors moved $5 million from a different project to make those safety changes a priority.

Haftsavar said shortly after his daughter’s death, a petition helped spur county leaders toward committing to make the safety changes. The outpouring of support included stories of his daughter’s love for young people and commitment to making a difference.

“That is her legacy,” Haftsavar said. “She wanted to help everyone she could.”

Haftsavar said he and his family continue to grieve, but look for ways to keep his daughter’s memory alive.

“Every night we go to her room, and we try to sit and talk to her, but we can’t get a response back,” he said, tearfully. “If she were here, she would have said, ‘I’m glad no one else is going to get hurt.'”

Contacted by WTOP, Herrity said it’s unlikely the name of the road will be changed.

“While this was a tragic incident, that is just not something that we do,” Herrity said. “I have been in touch with both VDOT and Mr. Haftsavar regarding a roadside memorial that not only would serve as a remembrance but a reminder to drivers of the road’s dangers and if her family supports moving forward on a roadside memorial I will make it happen.”

Looking to the future, Herrity said there are several steps that need to be taken before work can begin, including whether to build a temporary road and maintain traffic, or close the road and have a detour around that section of Lee Chapel for approximately three years.

“The county and VDOT are still working on several options which are tied to whether or not the road can be closed during construction,” Herrity told WTOP. “There will be significant community engagement early next year before an option is chosen.”

WTOP’s Mike Murillo contributed to this report.

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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