Two Walt Whitman students were injured Thursday morning in a four-car collision in a left-turn lane on River Road at Braeburn Parkway, the site of a February fatal collision that killed three members of a Bethesda family.
According to Montgomery County police, a Whitman student driving an eastbound car on River Road was entering a left-turn lane when the driver was blinded by the sun around 7:45 a.m., causing the car to rear-end another car stopped in the lane. That resulted in a chain-reaction collision involving two more cars also stopped in the lane.
Whitman students were driving all four cars, Principal Alan Goodwin said in a message to the school’s listserv.
A girl who was a passenger in one of the cars was taken by ambulance with nonlife-threatening injuries to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, police said. A second girl called her parents and was taken to a Sibley Memorial Hospital, Whitman Assistant Principal Jerome Easton said Thursday afternoon.
The intersection where the collision occurred was the same one where three members of the Buarque de Macedo family, headed to Whitman for a school play, were killed in a crash in February. A fourth family member was injured.
The driver, Ogulcan Atakoglu, whose vehicle collided with the family’s car, pleaded guilty to three counts of vehicular manslaughter. He is to be sentenced Dec. 9.
In June, school officials, parents and neighbors called on the Maryland State Highway Administration to install a traffic signal with a turn arrow for drivers turning from eastbound River Road to the access road that flows into the school’s parking lot. The intersection has long been a concern of neighbors and school officials.
In August, SHA began installing flashing signs at the intersection.
In his message, Goodwin said it appeared two cars were totaled in the wreck.
“Evidence looms again that the intersection is dangerous for all, but especially for our students,” Goodwin wrote. “Fortunately, community members and elected representatives are actively involved in advocating for improvements in the intersection and the nearby pedestrian walk.”