Friends say woman fatally struck by SUV in Riverdale Park was dedicated mother


A memorial in the home of 31-year-old Thelma Flores, who died in a pedestrian crash on Monday. She was crossing the street with her 3-year-old daughter Isabella in Riverdale Park. (Lynh Bui/The Washington Post)
September 3

Thelma Fernandez Flores always had her two daughters at the top of her mind. She had been saving money to throw her 14-year-old a quinceañera this year and spent Monday excitedly preparing for her 3-year-old’s first day of preschool, friends and family said.

“She had a lot of dreams,” said her friend Socorro Saavedra. “She didn’t make it.”

Flores, 31, was fatally struck by an SUV as she was crossing Riverdale Road near 58th Avenue with her 3-year-old daughter, Isabella, who was critically injured. The two were on their way back to their Riverdale Park home from the grocery store Monday when they were hit about 4:25 p.m., friends and authorities say. Now Prince George’s County police are investigating the crash to determine whether charges should be filed in Flores’s death, and local authorities are calling for a review of the intersection to improve safety for pedestrians.

Police are still investigating the incident and did not release details about whether Flores and her daughter were in a crosswalk. The driver involved in the crash stayed on the scene and has been cooperating with authorities, police said.

Isabella remains in critical condition as of Wednesday afternoon, but “she’s getting better,” Saavedra, 39, said.

Flores’s family set up a memorial with rosary beads, flickering prayer candles and photos of the young mother cuddling her two daughters in the family’s home, located blocks away from where Flores died.

Saavedra said she rushed to the scene of the crash Monday, where witnesses told family that Flores spent her last moments rushing to protect her daughter from the brunt of the crash.

“She was a great mother because whatever she did, she said she wanted to do it for her two daughters,” Saavedra said.

Salvador Martinez, 24, stopped by the family’s home Wednesday to support his friends.

“She was a pretty outgoing mom,” said Martinez, a friend of Flores’s. “She was focused on making a better future for her daughters.”

Riverdale Park Mayor Vernon Archer said he had requested that the Maryland State Highway Administration install more prominent pedestrian protections in the area three years ago, but state officials said there wasn’t justification to put in more equipment.

“There are eight lanes of traffic, and the only protection there are signs and a crosswalk,” Archer said. “We are demanding a change.”

David Buck, a spokesman for the highway agency, said the intersection where Flores died has had eight pedestrian crashes in the past four years — none were fatal.

The state declined to install additional traffic features in the past because engineering and crash data showed there wasn’t a need, Buck said. He said, however, that once the crash report from Flores’s death is complete, the state would consider reviewing the safety of the intersection again.

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Lynh Bui is a Prince George's County public safety reporter and former Montgomery County education reporter.
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