Family and friends of DeCarlo Thomas made a solemn pilgrimage on Sunday to a spot adjacent to Interstate 270 in Gaithersburg to put up a memorial in his memory.
It’s as close as they could safely get to where Thomas was killed last month.
Maryland State Police said Thomas survived a single-car rollover crash on I-270 just after 9:15 p.m. March 13. He was hit by another car after climbing out of the wreckage, and died on the scene. He was 36.
“It’s hard when you lose a loved one. It is hard,” one woman said through tears. “We were inseparable. He was my buddy before we got together … It’s nice to have this spot here now that I can come and sit and talk to him in my car or whatever I need to do.”
One woman at the memorial said the most immediate thing that someone could do if they saw a crash while driving is slow down to avoid another tragedy.
“It’s very difficult to accept his passing because he was so young: 36 years old. Life was just beginning for him,” Barbara Dorsey, Thomas’ aunt, said.
Loved ones said they hope the memorial will serve as a message of safety and vigilance on the roads to motorists who never knew Thomas. They also hope it will be a reminder to those who design, maintain and regulate the roadways.
“They need to do something on these roads to make them safer. You can’t have a flat tire — there’s nowhere to pull over at, you take your chance, playing Russian roulette with your own life,” Lawrence Johnson, Thomas’ father, said.