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Lobbyist Wife of WH Official Dies in Bizarre Car Fire


"The were some unusual circumstances..."

A former Congressional aide, current energy lobbyist, and wife of a White House Congressional liaison died in a car fire in southeast Washington, D.C. It's a case that has investigators somewhat puzzled.

Ashley Turton was found dead in a burning car inside her garage after fire fighters responded early Monday morning. D.C. fire department spokesman Pete Piringer says firefighters were called to a rowhouse and found a car engulfed in flames in a garage behind the residence. While they were initially told everyone at the residence was accounted for, they eventually discovered Turton's body in the car.

“It had heavy smoke and fire conditions in a garage—an attached garage of a 2 and ½ story rowhouse,” Piringer said. “The homeowner initially indicated that everyone in the house was accounted for. Firefighters were able to quickly knock down the bulk of the fire during the firefighting operation, but they did find an adult occupant of the vehicle [in the garage] deceased.”

According to Piringer, some "unusual circumstances" surround the incident.

“The leading theory is accidental [that] the car crashed through the garage doors and…was found on fire in the garage area,” he said. “There were some unusual circumstances – just the way the car was, low-speed, significant fire, things like that….For the most part, the fire was confined to the area of origin.”

Progress Energy, the company Turton worked for as a lobbyist, confirmed in a statement Monday that she had died. Mike Hughes, a spokesman for the Raleigh, N.C.-based company, said co-workers are devastated to hear of Turton's death.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with her husband and family,” he told Politico. “Ashley was just an extremely knowledgeable person and a friend to many people. She will be sorely missed."

Turton's death comes on the same day Progress Energy announced a merger with Duke Energy, a move that would create the country’s largest utility company, Hughes added. He said Turton would have played a key role on Capitol Hill discussing the merger.

Turton joined the company in 2007 after serving as chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro. Before that she served as an aide for former Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-MO).

DeLauro talked briefly about the death on Monday at an event joining in the President's moment of silence for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and lamenting hateful political rhetoric and "vitriol":

She and her husband, the White House's deputy director of legislative affairs for the House, had three children.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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