January 10th, 2011
02:56 PM ET
12 years ago

Former Hill staffer, wife of White House aide, dies in burning car

Washington (CNN) - Lobbyist and former Congressional aide Ashley Turton, wife of a top White House staffer, was killed Monday in an early morning fire in her garage, according to sources familiar with the still-unfolding investigation.

D.C. Fire Department spokesman Pete Piringer would not confirm the identity of the victim but said the first emergency calls came in around 5 a.m. ET. He said "the main theory now is that this was a crash event and then a fire" in the garage adjacent to Turton's home on Capitol Hill.

Other sources familiar with the investigation identified the victim as Ashley Turton, wife of Dan Turton, a staffer on President Obama's Congressional liaison staff. The couple has three very young children who were at home sleeping during the fire but were all brought to safety.

These sources said they believe that Ashley Turton, who was a lobbyist for Progress Energy, was heading to her job extremely early because of work connected with her company's merger with Duke Energy.

Turton's death shook up a close-knit political community already reeling from Saturday's shooting in Tucson that claimed the life of an aide to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, and five other people.

"My heart goes out to my longtime friend and former colleague, Dan, and their three sweet children," Shanti Stanton, a lobbyist who previously served as a top aide to then-House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt (Missouri), told CNN in an e-mail. "Ashley was a dear, dear friend and the rock of her family. She was beloved by everyone who knew her."

Stanton said she and other former Congressional aides were still struggling to comprehend the tragic news about Turton, who was a longtime aide to Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Connecticut, and met her future husband while he was serving as an aide to Gephardt.

"It's hard for me to put my feelings into words at this moment," Stanton wrote in the email about Turton. "I miss her so much already. She was a beautiful, happy, witty, intelligent; generous (I could go on forever) person. She was always there for her family and friends and it is going to take me a very long time to accept she is gone. It is truly devastating and I feel a large hole in my heart."

Fire department officials noted the fire was confined mostly to the garage, with some heat and smoke damage to the house. But the garage is situated in such a way that the rest of the family inside the house probably did not know the car had caught fire.

"Initially when fire crews arrived on the scene the people in the house said all were accounted for, an adult and several kids," Piringer said of Dan Turton and the children.

But Piringer said after the fire was put out and the heavy smoke was cleared from the garage, they found the person's body in the car.

- CNN's Paul Courson and Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.

Filed under: Capitol Hill
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. fandango

    Another suspicious death? Fire in her garage is a crash event and then a fire? What kind of nonsense is that? How do we even know she was alive when the fire started. This is being treated far to blase' for me. I say treat it as a crime scene until something else is proven. How many people, in the history of automobiles, getting ready to go to work, crash into their garages, from a standstill, causing a fire that then kills them? I DON'T BELIEVE A WORD OF THIS REPORT 'CAUSE IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE AND IF IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE, IT'S A LIE.

    January 10, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  2. sunsohot

    Pretty frightening to think what the investigation may reveal.....especially after the murders in Tucson...

    January 10, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  3. wiseone

    If you drive into your garage or attempt to leave your garage and the car catches fire, your first instinct is to get out of the car to safety. Unless some condition prohibits you from doing this. I wonder what that was with Ms Turton? Something doesn't sound right here.

    January 10, 2011 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  4. GI Joe

    Hmmm – car bomb? Another democrat targeted?? Will we ever know the truth about anything in D.C.?

    January 10, 2011 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  5. Bill

    Beck Did it!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 10, 2011 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  6. Billy J in Texas

    Something doesn't sound right. I don't like to be suspicious, but something seems really peculiar about somebody burning up in their car in their garage and not honking the horn, or the family not smelling it before it got out of control.

    January 10, 2011 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  7. Phil

    Has hubby been playing with matches again ?

    January 10, 2011 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  8. Patriots Salute the Flag! Traitors don't!!!

    Wonder who is responsible for this atrocity. Murder or an accident. Who knows siunce we're dealing with Liberals.

    January 10, 2011 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  9. GOP = Greed Over People

    This is bizarre to me, a "crash" event that left the rear axle of the car about 6 feet in the air?

    How can a car get to the necessary speed to do that type of damage in a garage, or even a driveway?

    January 10, 2011 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |