Driver in deadly Montgomery County drag race sentenced to 5 years

A Maryland man who was found guilty for his part in a deadly drag race has been sentenced to five years in prison.

A jury found Noe Daniel Suriel, 29, of Silver Spring, guilty last June in the death of Rene Antonio Hernandez Jr., of Olney. Suriel was sentenced Friday.

“This should send a message to anyone who would consider the highly dangerous and potentially deadly act of drag racing at excessive speeds. Any driver participating in a race may be convicted of manslaughter by motor vehicle regardless of which vehicle is involved in a fatal collision,” Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said in a statement.

On Sept. 6, 2019, Suriel and two other drivers were racing on Georgia Avenue, when all three of them struck the Honda Civic that was being driven by Hernandez, who was trying to turn to an entrance ramp to the Intercounty Connector.

The investigation showed that in the minutes before the crash, the Dodge Challenger driven by Suriel and an Infiniti Q50S, driven by Camilo Jose Ahumada Serje, 27, of Olney, were speeding down the road.

Several witnesses told investigators that before the crash, Suriel and Serje were traveling at a very high rate of speed, weaving through traffic to pass other vehicles, revving their engines at stop lights and “obviously racing,” a Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office news release said.

Footage from a Metrobus captured the two cars driving at high speed.

Shortly before the crash, investigators said Regino Andres Gonzalez Pena, 38, of Gaithersburg, joined the race in his Ford Explorer.

Prosecutors presented a video from a Metrobus, showing Suriel’s and Serje’s vehicles speeding by. There was also video from the passenger seat of Serje’s vehicle. Data taken from Serje’s vehicle showed that it was going 106 mph five seconds before the crash.

Suriel was the only driver not to plead guilty. Serje pleaded guilty to gross negligent manslaughter by motor vehicle last October, and his sentencing is scheduled Sept. 1; he faces a maximum 10 years in prison.

Gonzales Pena pleaded guilty to gross negligent manslaughter by motor vehicle in May; he faces an agreed-upon maximum sentence of 18 months in prison. His sentencing is scheduled Sept. 7.

WTOP’s Mike Murillo contributed to this report.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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