Saturday, February 27, 2016

3 dead in horrific car accident near Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda; Whitman student among those killed

Updated 6:56 AM: Confirmed Helena, who is hospitalized in critical condition, is a sophomore at Whitman

Updated 6:05 AM: The deceased Whitman student's sister Helena, who is hospitalized in critical condition, was or is a Whitman student as well

Updated 5:59 AM:  I've confirmed the teenage fatality, Thomas Michael Buarque De Macedo, was a Walt Whitman High School student

Updated 5:51 AM: Accident victims identified, additional details from police

Updated 1:19 AM: Photos added

At least three people are dead after a horrific auto accident on River Road near Walt Whitman High School. Montgomery County Police have identified the three victims who died as Michael Buarque De Macedo, 52 years old, the driver; Alessandra M. Buarque De Macedo, 53 years old, a rear seat passenger; and Thomas Michael Buarque De Macedo, 18 years old, the front seat passenger.

Helena Buarque De Macedo, a rear seat passenger, was transported to a local trauma center with life threatening injuries. Thomas was a student at Whitman, according to several documents, including a list that indicates he was National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist in the current academic year. Helena's name appears on a Walt Whitman Honor Roll as a sophomore in the current academic year.

Police have not yet confirmed Helena's age, but Whitman principal Alan Goodwin last night stated that a Whitman student was in critical condition. Michael and Alessandra Buarque DeMacedo lived with their son Thomas and daughter Helena in the 7000 block of Loch Lomond Drive in Bethesda, police said.

Goodwin confirmed on his Twitter account last night that a "Whitman family" was in one of the vehicles.

The family was in a grey, 2016 Chevrolet Volt traveling east on River Road Saturday night at approximately 6:56 PM, when the driver attempted to make a left turn onto Pyle Road, police said. At that moment, a blue, 2016 BMW M235, driven by Ogulcan Atakoglu was traveling westbound on River Road. The vehicles collided. Atakoglu, 20, was also transported to a local trauma center with non-life-threatening injuries.

According to a source who spoke to a witness at the scene, the Volt heading eastbound toward the District was making a left turn onto Pyle Road, which leads to Walt Whitman. The vehicle was struck by the BMW before it could complete the turn. The eastbound vehicle ended up in a ditch, and the occupants were trapped, according to the witness.

The witness at the scene said the occupants of the eastbound vehicle may have been en route to a play at Whitman Saturday night.

The Whitman Drama website indicates that there was indeed a play, Noises Off, last evening at Whitman at 7:00 PM.

Police have not indicated who was at fault, but an investigation continues.

Initially, before officers arrived to direct traffic, drivers created their own turnaround using the pedestrian crossing of the River Road median just west of Pyle Road:


35 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Just after 7 PM"

So why did it take you six hours to report this local story? WJLA and WTOP covered this story right away.

Robert Dyer said...

11:07: I reported immediately on the accident and road closure on Twitter. This story couldn't have been printed without the information that became available over the hours since. The other news outlets don't have any of the details I have here. You're lying, as usual. Your favorite media outlet hasn't even filed a report yet at all.

Robert Dyer said...

11:07: God, I just checked the WJLA and WTOP stories you claim "covered" the accident.

NEITHER of them, nor any other media outlet, have the details I've reported here.

Welcome to Journalism 101, punk.

Anonymous said...

You could have just said "11:07: I reported immediately on the accident and road closure on Twitter. [you can follow me at ________ for real-time information]" or not said anything at all, rather than turning into a child, Dyer. Condolences to those affected by the accident.

Anonymous said...

The desperation of "anonymous" is palpable.

Robert Dyer said...

12:11: You want to know what's childish? Some anonymous coward trolling in the comment section when there's been a major tragedy in the community. Despicable.

Anonymous said...

It is now 6:30. Wasgingtonpost.com had no more detail than last night. So I went to Twitter, searched Bethesda accident and read your tweet. You are turning into my go-to source of breaking Bethesda news. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Helena is a sophomore at Whitman and Thomas was a senior. Both were on the honor roll the 1st quarter at Whitman.
http://connectedcommunities.us/showthread.php?t=74010

Robert Dyer said...

3:44: Thank you, welcome aboard!

3:48: Thanks, I've updated the story.

Anonymous said...

Let's see this accident took place 12 hours ago. Dyer's had constant updates. The "other website" hasn't had one post on it. Dyer has the latest, most accurate news.. again!

Anonymous said...

Nice reporting RD, Thank you. Condolences to that poor family.

RQuist

Kathy A. Gambrell said...

Wow. I had been a fairly loyal reader - until today. As someone who has been a journalist and an editor for more than 20 years and been on the receiving end of both positive and negative comments by readers and sources, I never, ever called them names, but rather just appreciated they had eyes on my content even if they disagreed with me. If anything it started a conversation that sometimes led to a new story or a fresh perspective.

Anonymous said...

Kathy, after being a fairly loyal reader, this section of comments is what you take issue with? I guess you've got adult-minded commenters and not juveniles. But that's a discussion for another day.

This is such a sad, sad accident. My heart and love go out to the family. Thanks for the top-notch coverage, Robert.

Robert Dyer said...

Kathy,

You would stop reading because I dealt firmly and reasonably with a despicable person who would troll on such a tragic story as this?

I know some people are a little bit frustrated that I scooped the heck out of their favorite, "well-lit and safe" local media outlets, but endorsing uncivilized behavior by cowards still isn't a logical response. I let people have their say on here, and I take a tremendous amount of abuse from whoever this anonymous troll is (he isn't as anonymous as he thinks).

I can't recall you ever criticizing that behavior. You make it sound like this guy was making some sound argument we could all learn something from. In reality he's just a frustrated fool who was asleep at the switch during this important story.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand hating on Dyer. I assumed Robert Dyer was your average nice-guy blogger who did this blog as a favor to all of us in Bethesda. We should, therefore, be grateful for anything he writes, doesn't write, whenever it does or doesn't get written. It doesn't matter to me how quickly or what he writes about, it matters to me that there is someone paying attention and reporting on our community in a deeper way than we'd get on big company local news that is balancing Bethesda with the entire Metro region. I mean, do you really CARE if he is up at 11 at night covering this story in a certain detail? Do you PAY HIM for this service? As far as I can tell, it's super nice of him to be around and helping me feel part of my community. Is he SUPPOSED to be "awake at the switch" on ANY story, important or not?

Friends of Woodmont Triangle said...

10:40am Please give it a rest. The Bethesda community is mourning today. Please take your grievances with the reporter private.

Anonymous said...

Agreed 8:37AM. Thanks for saying what many of us are thinking.

People need to learn to Appreciate more and Complain less.

Anonymous said...

Agreed 6:41AM. Thanks for saying what many of us are thinking.

People need to learn to appreciate more and complain less.

Anonymous said...

A family just died. I knew Tommy. He was a sweet and brilliant kid. Please follow the suggestion and shut the f*** up.

Anonymous said...

These were good people. My daughter went to Helena's movie party a year or so ago. When my daughter got sick, Alessandra left the theater with her to make sure she would be OK. I'll miss them.
I regularly see dump trucks and other vehicles speed through red lights at River and Whittier. I never see the cops pulling over speeders on River. I think that a speed camera would pay for itself in a week.

Anonymous said...

@1:06 PM - I agree except I do not think speed or running a red light has been determined to be the cause of this accident. Speed cameras do nothing. So people slow down then 40 feet later speed back up. I believe River Road is technically a state highway and the design of the road flows for higher speeds.

Anonymous said...

There are speed cameras on Conn. Ave in Kensington, also a state highway. 45 is plenty for a road through a residential area.

Kathy A. Gambrell said...

Richard, when you're developing content that is for public consumption and you're essentially reporting on what happens in the public domain, then you're going to get criticized. Not everyone likes what you write and not everyone agrees with you. Some people are just downright out there...but it's either the mission of providing information or engaging with those who honestly don't deserve the time and attention. After years in this business, you just grow a thick skin and ignore, otherwise you just wind up appearing shrill and easily engaged on what doesn't matter.
As my editors told me...and I told my reporters..you just grow a pair and move on. If you aren't pissing someone off, then you're not doing it right.


Anonymous said...

I am a sixteen year old student from Bethesda and Helena and I have many mutual friends. She lost her family so now we have to be her family for her. I have started a fundraising page for her on the compassionate caring site, YouCaring. https://www.youcaring.com/helena-buarque-de-macedo-530070 Please make a donation and spread it on social media so we can all help her recover. I went to the accident site today and cried. Kelsie Kimberlin

Robert Dyer said...

Kathy,

I respect your opinion and journalistic experience, and from many years publishing and being involved in County politics, I know one has to deal with negative feedback.

But this is my website, and I have a comment policy, and I have a right to run this site the way I choose.

I'm surprised you would launch a criticism here on this particular article. I was the only news source for the real details of this story Saturday night through today. Everybody else was on vacation, and was not there when the community needed information about this.

I hope you will apply your strong journalistic standards across the board, and not just to me. I don't recall you posting a criticism on BM when they ripped off my stories about 7770 Norfolk, Community diner, or, just last week, the drug bust on Westbard Avenue, without citing me as the source. You do agree citing sources is a must?

I expect to see a comment under your name on Martin Weil's Washington Post article, which he updated overnight with details that only I had reported, but did not cite my website as the source.

No police or fire, or other news organization had reported about a play taking place at Whitman Saturday night. That was information I reported from a witness at the scene. And the idea that the family was heading to the play - again, my reporting. I was not credited.

I've never seen a single criticism by you on my competitor's website in all these years. I have to question what motivates you to single me out, when there wasn't anything even worthy of criticism here.

You think dealing firmly with a troll who would post garbage comments in the midst of a community tragedy is bad journalism, but professional news organizations stealing my reporting without credit is OK? Wow.

Robert Dyer said...

Not to mention - I actually had REAL PHOTOS from the accident scene! Not just screen grabs from Pete Piringer. Give me a break.

Kathy A. Gambrell said...

You are right. It's your site to do with as you please. I do post comments on other news sites when I see things that step off mark. You can ask Kevin Lewis at WJLA or any number of people at NBC4 - one of the worst offenders....and Aaron Kraut. And they may not agree with me but I've gotten a thick skin over the years and criticism doesn't phase me one bit. This story is tragic. It happened in my community and to one of our community families. But as I've told NBC4, rather than focusing on the writer's hurt feelings because they aren't getting credit for something, the focus should be on the issues at hand on how the accident happened and what should be done to prevent it from happening again. I've had dozens of stories stolen by bigger news organizations. Welcome to journalism. Happens all the time. The story isn't about you...it is about a tragic accident that didn't have to happen. That's really all I have to say about it. I've made my point. I'll keep in mind that this blog site is about you and not the community....and move on. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Dyer, you're not dealing with the troll. The troll is a constant presence on almost every article you post. And do you know why? Because you take the bait every single time. Just delete the offensive comments (which is perfectly within your right), and then move on without replying. If I were you, I'd set up the comments so that they need your approval before they post. Most sites do this. You can censor the troll and stop this pain in the ass BS once and for all. Frankly, the troll and your reaction to him/her is ruining your blog. People don't want to see this crap, especially on a post like this. The troll and your reaction to them (and to Kathy) is disrespectful.

Regarding your obsession with breaking the news. It's 2016, man. No one's paying attention to that sort of thing except you. No one cares. We're here because we're following you, so you're preaching to the choir anyway. Even if you weren't first on the scene, you effectively break the news for me because you're the top of my Bethesda blogs. The only person giving you a hard time is the troll. And, back to how I started -- do you know why? Because you react every time. The troll's whole purpose here is to get you to freak out and rant against him.

Anonymous said...

Not sure why this article is the place to discuss trolls. Dyer has another thoughtful piece today on how to prevent another accident.

But remember, this isn't any random troll somewhere in the U.S. He's revealed that's he's been in specific county meetings with Dyer. Now, given that there are only so many people in those rooms who cover those meetings and were in attendance it's pretty obvious who the troll is. I hope Robert eventually does a piece on this guy. It would be a sad story about local media.

Anonymous said...

Kathy, his name is Robert, not Richard.

Anonymous said...

@5:56 Agreed. Robert should just ignore the trolls and delete their comments. It would make the comment section better for everybody.

I don't think he should go to moderated (approval required) comments because it makes the discussion less timely if we have to wait for his approval each time. Robert has to sleep also :)

Anonymous said...

A 20 year old kid with a terrible driving record, driving a $50K car???? The insurance had to be $10K a year. They're not saying something. Are we really that stupid?

Robert Dyer said...

5:29: Well, I regularly read BM, and I've never seen a public criticism of their work by you in the comments section.

It's not "about me" - I provided timely and enterprising reporting on this tragic story when the community was seeking information. You and others decided to the make the comments section on that tragic story into some kind of referendum on me. It's no coincidence people with an axe to grind would come in and take shots when they knew this story was getting high readership. There wasn't any other news out there on this until midday Sunday, when other outlets started to return from their vacations.

Anonymous said...

If you look at the patternthough really it seems just the latest post has the most shots taken at you. Seems it dies off as it enters page two of the mobile site or when you stop replying. That always seems to do it and does say quite a bit about what's happening.

Jen said...

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims. Has anyone found out what went wrong that lead to the car accident? Perhaps that knowledge would serve as a lesson to other motorists.