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Airline Van Driver Charged in Tarmac Deaths

March 17, 1991

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The driver of a Northwest Airlines van has been charged with hit and run and involuntary manslaughter after running over two women who had just exited a commuter plane and were walking toward the terminal of Washington National Airport.

Aaron Standifer, 51, of Suitland, Md., was being held at the Arlington County Detention Center in Virginia on $60,000 bond last night, said police.

Standifer was driving through a restricted area Friday night when he struck the women, who were walking on a striped pedestrian walkway, said David Hess, spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

Yvonne Lethem, 52, of Falls Church died at the scene, police said. Her family was waiting for her at the terminal when the incident occurred.

Isaura Lages, 31, of Miami, Fla., was taken by helicopter to Washington Hospital Center, where she later died. Lages, an employee of Pan American World Airlines, had traveled to the Washington area to visit a friend, Hess said. She was dressed in her uniform but was a passenger on Pan Am Flight 4779, which had arrived from LaGuardia International Airport in New York.

The commuter plane cannot be serviced by the terminal arms that extend to meet larger aircraft. Passengers have to walk a short distance on the ground after departing from the plane.

After he struck the women, Standifer continued driving about 100 yards until a Pan Am employee stopped him, Hess said.

No other injuries were reported in the incident.

Standifer will be arraigned in Arlington County Circuit Court next week, said Hess.

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