Driver Pleads Guilty in Maryland Crash That Killed Three Family Members

Originally published by NBC Washington in August 2016.

The driver involved in a car crash that killed three family members pleaded guilty Monday to three counts of vehicular manslaughter, the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office says.

Olgucan Atakoglu, 20, of Potomac, Maryland, was traveling 115 mph in a 45 mph zone when he slammed into a family’s car along River Road in Bethesda on Feb. 27.

Michael Buarque de Macedo, 52, his wife Alessandra M. Buarque de Macedo, 53, and their son, Thomas, 17, all died in the crash. Helena Buarque de Macedo, 15, survived the crash.

The family was on their way to see a play at Walt Whitman High School, Helena and Thomas’ school.

Each count of vehicular manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. In this case, the recommended sentence is three months to four years for each count, the State’s Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

The family had been trying to make a left turn at the intersections of River and Pyle Roads, near the back entrance of the high school. After the crash, community members renewed pleas to extend the median and prevent left turns onto Pyle Road, which some have called a dangerous intersection.

“We predicted this would happen,” said community activist Richard Boltuck at Whitman in June. “We felt each day it didn’t happen, we were lucky. We were fortunate. Maybe, we were even wrong. But eventually, our fears have proven to have been well-founded.”

A day after community members gathered at the school to call for change to the roads, parents and educators again gathered to celebrate the school’s graduates, including Thomas Buarque de Macedo, who was a senior.

His sister, a sophomore, and their uncle accepted the young man’s honorary degree and a certificate that recognized his standing in the top five percent of his class on his behalf.

Atakoglu’s sentencing is slated for Nov. 7. He is being held on no bond pending his sentencing, the statement said.

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