Officials to study Montgomery Co. intersection where family died in crash

WASHINGTON —  The Maryland State Highway Administration says it will launch a new engineering study of the River Road intersection in Bethesda where three members of a family were killed in a crash Saturday night.

Michael Buarque De Macedo, 52; his wife Alessandra M. Buarqe De Macedo, 52; and their son Thomas Buarque De Macedo, 18, were killed.

Their daughter Helena, a sophomore at Walt Whitman High School, was critically injured. Thomas was a senior at the school.

The SHA says it can’t speculate on the cause of the crash, but will review the final police report and conduct a thorough analysis of the intersection to see if safety changes are needed.

Neighbors say the SHA has spent years ignoring their pleas to bolster safety at the intersection where eastbound River Road traffic — particularly Whitman students — turn left crossing westbound River Road onto Pyle Road.

“They didn’t rely on an excellent set of information that was available through the experiences and observations of many, many very rational citizens,” says Richard Boltuck, vice president of the Bannockburn Civic Association.

Boltuck charges that for more than a decade, the SHA stonewalled citizens who warned the SHA that a fatal accident would happen at the intersection.

“It’s a highly dangerous intersection, crossing oncoming traffic that is often speeding over the 45 mph speed limit over the crest of a hill,” Boltuck says.

In a written statement, the SHA says it made safety enhancements to the intersection, including pavement markings, lighting and restricting movements at certain times of day.

The crash is under investigation and involves the Montgomery County Police Collision Reconstruction Unit.  

The Buarque De Macedo family was travelling eastbound of River Road and turning left onto Pyle Road. The driver of the other vehicle Ogulcan Atakoglu — 20, of Potomac — was traveling westbound on River Road when the vehicles collided.

Atakoglu sustained non-life threatening injuries in the crash.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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