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Van Driver Charged in Ground Deaths at National Airport

March 16, 1991

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) _ The driver of a Northwest Airlines van has been charged with two counts of hit and run and involuntary manslaughter after two women were fatally struck while they were walking from a small commuter plane to a gate at Washington National Airport.

Aaron Standifer, 51, was driving through a restricted area between the plane and the terminal when he struck the women as they walked on a striped pedestrian walkway toward the terminal, said David Hess, spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

Standifer, of Suitland, Md., is scheduled to be arraigned in Arlington County Circuit Court today. He was being held Friday in lieu of $60,000 bond, Hess said.

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

The other woman, identified as Isaura Lages, was taken by helicopter to Washington Hospital Center, where she later died, Hess said.

The accident occurred Friday evening as passengers and crew were leaving the plane, Pan Am Flight 4779, a commuter flight, Hess said. Passengers on the four-engine, propeller-driven plane must walk a short distance on the ground after leaving the plane because it cannot be serviced by the terminal arms that extend to meet larger aircraft.

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