Former Capitol Hill Aide, Wife of White House Staffer Found in Burned Car

Ashley Turton was found dead in a burning car in Southeast D.C.

January 10, 2011, 2:29 PM

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10, 2011— -- Ashley Turton, a former aide to Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and the wife of White House staff member Dan Turton, was found dead this morning in her burned-out car in the garage of her home in Southeast Washington, D.C.

Turton, a mother of 3-year-old twins and a 1-year-old, worked as a lobbyist for Progress Energy.

The Metro police and fire department received a call at 4:49 a.m. from a neighbor about a fire in a garage at the intersection of Eighth Street and A Street in Southeast Washington, near Capitol Hill.

The D.C. Fire Department arrived at Turton's row house within minutes. Firefighters were blocked by heavy smoke and fire, said spokesman Pete Piringer.

Piringer said that the family, which was evacuated, initially told authorities that all members were accounted for.

But when firefighters were putting out the fire, they found an adult victim, presumably the driver, inside the car. The victim, who was later identified as Turton, was pronounced dead at the scene.

While authorities are still investigating, Piringer said the fire and death appear to be an accident, caused by the car crashing into the garage.

"The leading theory was the fire was a result of a crash, a collision," he said. "It was believed to be accidental and the fire appeared to be the result of the crash, which seemed to be a low speed event."

Turton was scheduled to be at work, and was most likely involved with the merger between Progress Energy and Duke Energy, which was announced last week.

She had been an employee of Progress Energy since September 2007.

"We are just devastated with the news," said company spokesman Mike Hughes. "My thoughts and prayers are with her husband and with her family. She was an extremely knowledgeable employee and a friend to many people, and she will be sorely missed."

Ashley Turtor, Former Hill Aide, Dies in Car Fire

Before that, Turton worked first as press secretary, then as chief of staff to DeLauro between 2000 and 2007. In a statement this afternoon, DeLauro expressed her shock at the incident.

"My husband Stan and I are shocked by the tragic loss of our dear friend and colleague, Ashley Turton. She was special," DeLauro said. "She was special as a pioneering chief-of-staff who knew how to make the House of Representatives work for people. She was a leader and comrade in arms to so many staff. She was a member of our family, and we mourn her. My heart goes out to her family, especially her husband Dan and their three young children. This is truly a terrible week for our Congressional family."

Her husband, Dan, is White House liaison to the House of Representatives.

Acting White House chief of staff Pete Rouse sent an e-mail to employees today mourning the Turton family's loss.

"Many of you have worked with both of them during their careers on Capitol Hill, and they exemplify the definition of public servants," Rouse wrote. "We are making every resource available to Dan and his family in his moment of need, and we will update you soon about where you can send condolences to the Turton family."

ABC News' Jake Tapper contributed to this report.

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