As Community Focuses on Traffic Safety, Police Share More Details of Kensington Crash

As Community Focuses on Traffic Safety, Police Share More Details of Kensington Crash

Wife of injured cyclist struck by truck at crosswalk calls for signal, speed cameras

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Kensington meeting

More than 100 people were at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Kensington on Tuesday night to talk about traffic safety in the area of a crash that injured a cyclist last month.

Photos by Dan Schere

Montgomery County police say a crash that seriously injured a Kensington bicyclist standing at a crosswalk last month occurred when a truck turned left from Connecticut Avenue onto Saul Road and was hit by two oncoming vehicles.

Capt. Sean Gagen, the police commander for the Second District, addressed a community meeting of more than 100 people at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Kensington Tuesday night.

The District 18 state legislative delegation hosted the meeting, which focused on improving traffic safety in the immediate area of the crash. State and county transportation officials also attended.

According to Gagen, around 7:45 p.m. on Oct. 23, Dr. Grant Bonavia was standing on the northbound side of Connecticut Avenue waiting to cross on Saul Road. A pickup truck on the southbound side turned left onto eastbound Saul Road.

As the truck was turning, it was struck by two northbound vehicles on Connecticut Avenue — one in the center lane and another in the far-right lane, Gagen said.

After the crash with the northbound vehicles, the truck bounced off and struck Bonavia, pinning him against a nearby utility pole, Gagen said.

Four other people besides Bonavia were injured during the crash. Police had not released additional details in the two weeks since, and have declined to share the crash report after multiple requests from Bethesda Beat.

The crash left Bonavia, a radiologist at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Navy commander, with multiple injuries, including a broken pelvis, femur and ankle, as well as a significant loss of blood.

Bonavia’s wife, Mattie, spoke at the beginning of the meeting before going to the hospital to be with her husband. She said he has had eight surgeries since the crash.

“We’re looking at about 12 months of rehabilitation,” she said.

Mattie Bonavia said she wants to see more police in the area along with more speed cameras and other traffic safety features.

“This is no longer a country road. It is a dangerous, dangerous intersection. It probably needs an arrow because the person who shot this gap shot across four lanes,” she said.

“They had thrown down kitty litter because there was so much blood. I don’t mean to be so graphic, but that is the type of speed and poor decision-making … and on top of that, we really need cameras to make sure at every intersection in this speed corridor people are making good decisions,” she said.

Mattie Bonavia

        Mattie Bonavia talks about her husband, Grant, who was hit by a truck at the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and Saul Road on Oct. 23.

Mattie Bonavia said her husband’s height played a role in his survival.

“My husband is 6 feet tall. If a child, or myself, or an elderly person, had been standing there, there would have been a funeral,” she said.

During the meeting, residents echoed Mattie Bonavia’s desire for more traffic-calming measures, such as speed cameras and a left-turn signal at the Saul Road intersection.

One Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School student who was hit at the same intersection on Oct. 31, 2018, said she suffered a traumatic brain injury and a shattered pelvis. She said something must be done to slow down traffic on Connecticut Avenue.

“The fact that the man who hit us was speeding 70 mph in a 35 mph lane is just ridiculous,” she said.

Gagen said the ongoing investigation involves getting search warrants to obtain black boxes, or data recorders, from the vehicles involved, which would have information about anything that happened before, during or after the crash. Black box data, he said, would become part of the crash report.

“If there is cause for prosecution or litigation, that would be part of the investigation,” he said.

In an interview after the meeting, Gagen said most modern cars are equipped with black boxes, and he was sure that two of the three vehicles in the crash had them.

It remains unclear exactly where Bonavia was standing during the crash. Bystanders have said he was standing on the sidewalk,

A Montgomery County database of crashes refers to Bonavia standing “improperly” in the roadway. However, Gagen said after the meeting Tuesday that Bonavia was standing “just off the road,” but was not in the road and “did not contribute” to the crash.

Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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