MONTGOMERY COUNTY

1 Student Killed, 1 Hurt In Crash That Halved Car

Part of a 2003 Toyota Camry involved in a fatal crash landed near a Rockville apartment complex. The car, driven by an Albert Einstein High School student, ran off Veirs Mill Road and struck a tree.
Part of a 2003 Toyota Camry involved in a fatal crash landed near a Rockville apartment complex. The car, driven by an Albert Einstein High School student, ran off Veirs Mill Road and struck a tree. (By Jenna Johnson -- The Washington Post)
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By Jenna Johnson and Derek Kravitz
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, February 2, 2009

A Montgomery County high school student was killed and another was critically injured yesterday afternoon when one lost control of the car he was driving on Veirs Mill Road in Rockville. The vehicle flew down a hill near a high-rise apartment complex, hit a tree and split in two, Montgomery County police said.

Passenger Thiago Andrade, 17, of Rockville was thrown from the 2003 Toyota Camry and pronounced dead at the scene. Driver Johvanny Garmendez, 17, of Silver Spring was critically injured and taken to a hospital. Late yesterday, Garmendez's condition stabilized and he was able to talk to investigators, police spokesman Lt. Paul R. Starks said.

Police are still investigating the crash and they have not determined whether the driver was speeding, Starks said. Witnesses at the apartment complex, however, said the car was traveling well over the 45 mph speed limit before it crashed. Both teens were wearing seat belts.

Andrade was a junior at Rockville High School, where he was enrolled in a college-preparation program that targets low-income students, according to school officials. Many of the students in the program will be the first in their families to attend college.

"He was very well liked and well on his way," Rockville Principal Debra Munk said. Andrade's death will probably send a "very big ripple" through the school, she said, and extra counselors and psychologists will be available to meet with students today.

The crash occurred just after 12:30 p.m. as Garmendez drove east on Veirs Mill. Before he reached Robindale Drive, Garmendez lost control of the car, which went over a sidewalk and down a grassy hill. The car hit a tree and broke into two sections, which continued down the hill in different directions and landed in the parking lot of the Rock Creek Terrace apartment complex, damaging at least one other vehicle.

Garmendez was trapped behind the wheel until emergency workers arrived, Starks said.

Garmendez is a junior at Albert Einstein High School, Munk said. No one answered the phone at his Silver Spring home yesterday afternoon. A woman who answered the phone at Andrade's home said she was not ready to talk about the crash.

Police closed eastbound Veirs Mill for several hours yesterday to investigate the crash and clean up the scene. Dozens of neighbors gathered in the parking lot to watch authorities work. James Foreman, 71, said he saw the crash from a window of his apartment.

"Half of it went that way and half of it went that way, and I saw a body," Foreman said. "I knew somebody's dead. I called 911, told them to send an ambulance quick."

Montgomery County police ask that witnesses and others with information about the crash call 301-840-2435. Callers may remain anonymous, Starks said.


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