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Silver Spring Teen, a Budding Artist, Dies in Crash

Driver, Also 16, Is Injured After Losing Control of His Car and Striking a Telephone Pole

By Bill Broadway
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 26, 2004; Page C03

A 16-year-old junior at James Blake High School in Silver Spring was killed Friday night when the driver of the car in which she was a passenger lost control and hit a telephone pole.

Alicia Maria Betancourt of the 14700 block of Silverstone Drive was pronounced dead at the scene after the Volkswagen Jetta driven by Hersh Kapoor, 16, spun out of control on Norwood Road north of Norbeck Road, said Capt. John Fitzgerald, spokesman for Montgomery County police.


Alicia Maria Betancourt was killed Friday night in Silver Spring. This was her last work, a self-portrait in acrylic, her friend said. (Alicia Maria Betancourt)

Kapoor, of the 3200 block of St. Augustine Court in Olney and also a student at James Blake, was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where he was in stable but critical condition, Fitzgerald said.

A preliminary police investigation indicated that no other vehicles were involved and that speed may have been a factor. The car, Fitzgerald said, slipped onto the right shoulder of the two-lane road, and the driver tried to pull it back onto the road and overcompensated, sending the Jetta into a spin and into the pole on an embankment.

Betancourt was wearing a seat belt and shoulder harness. An air bag deployed, but it was not enough to soften the direct impact on the passenger side, Fitzgerald said.

An accomplished artist, Betancourt had more than half a dozen illustrations published in Stone Soup, a California-based children's magazine of stories, poems and other works of art by children. A family friend said her last work was a self-portrait.

Betancourt's mother, Lulu Delacre, is an author and illustrator of children's books. Her father, Arturo Betancourt, is an ophthalmologist and president and medical director of Baltimore Washington Eye Center. Reached at home, Betancourt said of his daughter, "The world lost a special person."

Alicia Betancourt's friends were devastated by the news of her death, said Maureen Hanson, whose daughter, Cameron, attended Eastern Middle School with Alicia. Although they attended different high schools, the girls remained friends.

"Alicia was such a colorful and alive person," said Cameron Hanson, a junior at Richard Montgomery High School. "She expressed herself mostly through her artwork and for a long time in dance . . . . She was always saying a nice thing to me. Being with her, you felt good."

Betancourt and Kapoor were "going to get ice cream," Hanson said.

Asked by a close friend of the Betancourts to notify 30 other friends about the accident, Maureen Hanson said she made numerous telephone calls and repeatedly heard the same comment: "It's every parent's nightmare. It's the call you never want to get."

She also talked with several teenagers who had known Betancourt as part of a tightknit group of about 100 students at Eastern Middle School.

"Young men and ladies alike burst into tears right on the phone," she said.


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