Driver in fatal Silver Spring crash did not have Maryland license, police say


Deborah Reyes Casasola, 13, was remembered as studious and cheerful. She wanted to be a veterinarian. (Family photo)

An unlicensed Maryland driver was behind the wheel of an SUV that careened from a parking lot into a field, killing a 13-year-old girl who was watching a soccer practice in Silver Spring, authorities said Thursday.

Montgomery County police identified the driver as Esperanza O. Vasquez, 33, of Silver Spring.

She and two others in the SUV initially refused to tell police who was driving, authorities said. But police said they were able to determine what happened by examining a surveillance video that showed Vasquez getting behind the wheel shortly before the crash. Vasquez eventually admitted she was driving, police said.

No charges have been filed in the case, but detectives are consulting with prosecutors.

The revelations deepened what was already a heartbreaking incident.


The area outside Eastern Middle School in Silver Spring, near where Deborah Reyes Casasola, was fatally struck by an SUV this week. (Dan Morse/The Washington Post)

It began Tuesday evening, when Deborah Reyes Casasola accompanied her parents to a soccer practice at Eastern Middle School. She took a seat next to her mother and her dog, family members would later recall.

About that time, according to police, three acquaintances were riding in a 2008 Ford Escape in the school’s parking lot. At first, the driver was a 26-year-old woman with a learner’s permit, whom police did not name. She was “practicing her driving skills and driving the vehicle in the parking lot,” police said in a statement Thursday.

Vasquez was in the back seat during the driving practice, police said. The SUV’s owner, Roland B. Delgado-Romero, 33, was in the front passenger seat. He holds a valid Maryland driver’s license. At some point, the driver switched seats with Vasquez, who has neither a learner’s permit nor a driver’s license.

The switch was recorded on school surveillance video.

The parking lot is a tight place to practice. Drivers who head to its eastern edge must navigate a sharp turn to exit the lot, with the outside edge bordering the soccer field area.

Orange paint markings by investigators indicate that the SUV jumped the outside curb, ran over a sign, clipped a tree and headed down a slope. The vehicle struck Casasola and continued traveling east, stopping more than 75 feet from the edge of the parking lot, according to the investigative paint markings.

The video did not record the collision, police said. Detectives are putting together their case based on witness statements and the damage at the scene.

Wesley Robinson and Mariana Marcaletti contributed to this report.

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Post staff writer Dan Morse covers courts and crime in Montgomery County, Md.
Victoria St. Martin covers breaking news and Prince William County for The Post's Local desk.
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