Her shift at Wendy’s approaching, Nelvis Garcia steered her Nissan Altima through the start of Montgomery County’s evening rush hour.
“She was really close. Only three or four minutes more,” her manager at the restaurant said Thursday.
Crash investigators are still trying to figure out what happened. Their initial findings: Shortly before 4 p.m. Wednesday, two other drivers — who may have been racing each other — were near Garcia’s car along three-lane Randolph Road, heading east. At least one driver made a lane change, causing Garcia to react quickly. Her car overturned, skidded on its roof and smacked into a fire hydrant. It came to rest, right side up, near a church.
The two other motorists — one thought to be driving a gray four-door car and the other a green Mini Cooper — kept going. Garcia, a 31-year-old mother, died a short time later.
“We are calling out for anyone who may have witnessed this crash,” said Capt. Tom Didone, commander of the Montgomery County Police Department’s traffic division. “There had to be, at that time of day, multiple vehicles driving by.”
Police hadn’t found the drivers as of Thursday evening. They said it was too early to confirm whether anyone was racing or exactly how the crash occurred. “We’re trying to get a complete perspective,” Didone said.
The crash stunned Garcia’s co-workers, husband and other family members.
“She was like a sister to all of us,” MairaBuenos, Garcia’s sister-in-law, said Thursday at a gathering of mourners at Garcia’s home in the Wheaton area.
Garcia had come here from Honduras five years ago and sent money to two teenage children who remained there with family, according to Buenos and a police spokeswoman. Garcia met her husband, Jorge, in Maryland, and they have a 4-year-old daughter, Frennezy.
Garcia’s family has not been able to tell the child about the crash.
“The older ones know, but the little girl doesn’t,” Buenos said. “We cannot tell her that her mother is gone.”
As for her children in Honduras, Garcia spoke often about them. “She wanted to be with them again one day,” Buenos said.
Nearly two years ago, Garcia took a job at the Wendy’s in Colesville. Her manager, Reina Hernandez, said Garcia initially seemed reserved. As Hernandez got to know Garcia, she discovered how outgoing the woman could be — eagerly working as a cashier or in the drive-through area. “She was a really friendly person,” Hernandez said.
“At the restaurant, she met people from everywhere,” Buenos said.
During Garcia’s shifts, when her cellphone would ring with a possible call from her young daughter, she would ask her manager for permission to answer it. When it wasn’t busy, she sometimes put the phone on speaker so others could hear.
“Mommy, I miss you,” Frennezy would say. “Mommy, what time are you coming home?”
Police are asking anyone who may have witnessed the crash or who can provide information about it to call the Collision Reconstruction Unit at 301-840-2435.