Crews Make Changes on River Road After 3 Killed in Crash

Officials are making safety improvements to a Bethesda intersection after a couple and their teenage son were killed in a violent crash there earlier this year.

Maryland's State Highway Administration is making safety improvements at River and Pyle roads. Crews are adding turn restrictions and traffic-activated flashers, although some people in the community had hoped for a traffic signal.

The push for changes came about after three members of a Bethesda family were killed at the intersection Feb. 27. The Buarque de Macedo family was on their way to see a high school play when they were struck by a man driving 110 mph in a 45 mph zone.

Michael and Alessandra Buarque de Macedo and their son, Thomas, 17, all died in the crash. The couple's teenage daughter, Helena, was the only survivor. 

The driver who struck the family has pleaded guilty to three counts of vehicular manslaughter. He will be sentenced in November.

It isn't first serious accident along the River Road stretch, not far from Walt Whitman High School. Judy Tastet's husband and daugther were trying to drive across River Road when they were hit in the intersection.

"They proceeded across, and it was a blind spot coming down the hill," Tastet said. "She hit him and totally destroyed the motor. Thank God it was that, because if she hit him any farther back, they would have both been killed."


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Tastet's husband and daugther were able to walk away from the crash. However, some residents said the safety changes were slow to arrive.

"Unfortunately, it took three deaths and a severely injured young lady to wake up the authorities to make a change or to try to improve it," said longtime resident Normam Plotnick. "Do I like it? I don't know. I'll tell you after it starts working or not working."

All the work is expected to be finished by the fall.

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