Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate dies after being hit by SUV
No charges filed against driver, who allegedly called police after dragging bike home
Maryland's Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate died at a Prince George's County hospital after she was hit Sunday morning by a sport utility vehicle while biking near Largo, Maryland State Police said.
Natasha Pettigrew, 30, the party's nominee for the seat currently held by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D), was transported to the Prince George's County Hospital Center in Cheverly after police found her near the site of the incident off Central Avenue and Campus Way early Sunday, said Cpl. Darryl Clark of Maryland State Police in Forestville.
Pettigrew based her campaign in Bowie.
Police reported Tuesday morning that Pettigrew died sometime between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.
"As a party, we have never experienced a loss like this," said Brian Bittner, co-chair of the Maryland Green Party in a written release. "We all looked forward to working with Natasha for years to come."
Bittner said that Pettigrew was on leave from her studies at the University of Miami to run for the seat currently held by Senator Barbara Mikulski.
"Natasha's intellect and charisma impressed everyone she met," said Karen Jennings, the other co-chair of the Maryland Green Party in the written release. "We'll never know what great things could have come from this bright young woman."
According to Clark, Pettigrew was riding a bicycle just after 5:30 a.m. Sunday when she was hit from behind by a Cadillac Escalade.
The driver, Christy R. Littleford, told police that she stopped her vehicle after the collision and thought she hit a deer, Clark said, citing reports from the investigation.
Littleford, 41, of Upper Marlboro called Prince George's County police after returning home and finding Pettigrew's bicycle underneath her vehicle, Clark said. A witness called Maryland State Police after spotting Pettigrew after the incident.
Littleford has not been charged in the crash, although the investigation is continuing, Clark said. Pettigrew was believed to be training for a triathlon and did not appear to be wearing any reflective or bright clothing during the early-morning ride, police said.
With its high population, dense living spaces and few sidewalks along major roads, Prince George's County tops the state in pedestrian deaths and fatal motor vehicle crashes, according to the State Highway Administration. More than 100 pedestrians and drivers have died each year since 2002.
Bittner said his party will consider naming a replacement candidate for Pettigrew. Ross Goldstein, Maryland State Board of Elections deputy administrator, said that the party could name a replacement at this date, citing death as one of the reasons allowed by law.
Bittner said party leaders would meet this weekend to discuss if they would name a replacement, and if so, who.
"They told us that the primary election results would be certified on Monday, and they plan to print general election ballots right after that, so we'll have to let them know soon."
Bittner said no potential candidates have come forward as of Tuesday afternoon.
Other candidates for the Senate seat include Mikulski, a Baltimore resident who has served as senator since 1986, and Republican Eric Wargotz, a doctor from Queen Anne's County.
Ken Sain contributed to this report.