Montgomery County Police have turned up the heat on the hit and run driver who ran into Seneca Valley freshman Adi Alverez as he rode his bike to school earlier this month.
Public officials, police and the boy’s father held a press conference outside the Fifth District Police Station today to ask the public’s help in getting more information which can bring closure to this incident.
Police say the incident took place at Great Seneca Highway and Wisteria Drive at about 7:30 am on Tuesday, Oct. 6. According to police, a vehicle described as a white van made a left turn from Wisteria Drive onto northbound Great Seneca Highway and struck the bicyclist while he was in a marked crosswalk. After striking the victim, the driver of the van initially slowed and then fled from the area.
“I am here to ask for your help for any information or tips that may lead us catching of this female, black-American female, wearing glasses who was driving the min van,” said Fernando Alverez, the father of 14-year-old Adi Averez. “I do hope that anybody who knows or may have heard anything from her telling a story about being in an accident, or any collision shop that she might have gone to have her car fixed. Please come forward and give us any information to move this investigation forward.”
Police say that they have some video from the intersection but would not say if it video shows the incident taking place. “We have some video but we are not able to release it,” said Captain Paul Starks of the MCPD. “It still needs to be examined. We are not sure how much it really shows. It is not from the traffic camera.”
“We would love to hear from the driver of the vehicle which struck this young man, just so we can get their side and find out what is going on here,” said Montgomery County Police Officer Bob Ladany, who met young Averez in the Germantown Emergency Center on the morning of the incident to take his report. “Pedestrian safety is an incredibly large issue, whether it is down county in in the more urban areas of Bethesda or in the more rural areas such as up here in Germantown, or Clarksburg or Damascus. We would just like to hear the other side of the incident.”
Starks said, “As with any open investigation, where no conclusions have been made, there are many possabilities.”
The press conference comes on the heels of two fatal pedestrian accidents taking place in other parts of Montgomery County in the last 24 hours. One took place in Bethesda Wednesday night shortly before 7:00 pm when Margaret McDowell Wydro, a 95-year-old woman was struck and killed in the intersection of River Road and Springfield Drive. And earlier this Thursday morning, 18-year-old Michelle Sena Hoyah, 18, was struck and killed while crossing Route 29 between New Hampshire Avenue and Oak Leaf Drive in White Oak. In both of those incidents the drivers remained at the scene and police are investigating the incidents.
“We have heard a lot from the community with concern about what the County and the state are doing about the challenges we are seeing regarding some very concerning incidents of pedestrian safety,” Councilmember Craig Rice told reports in Germantown this morning. “The county and SHA are taking those challenges very seriously. Many of you know those students that were hit at Kingsview Middle School, a little over a year ago. That incident resulted in us changing the intersection and making some tremendous differences. And right here at the intersection of Middlebrook and Rt. 118, we’ve also made some traffic improvements and where Christina More lost her life at Rt. 118 and Wisteria Drive we’ve made some improvement there as well.”
“Our traffic patterns are changing as we grow as a county and become much larger,” said Rice. “We are seeing more folks that are car dependent and more traffic on our roads and that is combined with a huge increase in the number of students that we have. We have changed bell times and when you look at the traffic patterns, they have completely changed in terms of the interaction times of people.”
Fifth District Commander Capt. David Gillespie spoke with Germantown Pulse about some of the issues facing drivers and pedestrians in the Germantown area.
“There are two initiatives,” he said. “The first is we’ve identified that we had a number of pedestrian incidents on the Rt. 355 corridor from down around Plummer Drive up to Clarksburg. As a result, we have been dedicating officers to do traffic enforcement along that corridor. At least a half-hour of their shift is dedicated solely for traffic enforcement and pedestrian laws, in an attempt to keep that area safe and reduce the number of pedestrian accidents in that area.”
“The other thing that we are doings is we are working with our traffic squad and the District Community Action Team, who are specially trained in pedestrian initiatives,” said Gillespie. “We go out and have done a pedestrian education and enforcement campaign at many intersections in the Fifth District. This is something that is done throughout the county. We will dedicate two-hour details where officers are out in-force issuing tickets to drivers and educating them on yielding the right of way to pedestrians, while also educating and ticketing pedestrians who are in violation of pedestrian laws.”
“With two high schools on the Great Seneca Highway corridor our concern is that both at Seneca Valley and at Northwest high schools,” said Gillespie. “There are a lot of students that have to cross that major thoroughfare both before and after school, and we also have open lunch at Seneca Valley where kids are going over to the shopping center, getting something to eat and coming back to school. Because of the heavy pedestrian traffic on a major thoroughfare our concern is making sure that students are able to cross safely. The speed limit on that road is not conducive for heavy pedestrian traffic. The concern is that people are slowing down and are paying attention to students, or any pedestrian that might be crossing the road.”
Meanwhile, Adi Alverez continues to recover from his injuries. The ninth-grader suffered a sprained ankle in the incident but his father said that he has been terrified to attempt to walk to school since the incident.
Police are urging anyone who may have witnessed this collision or who has information about this collision, which took place on Tuesday morning Oct. 6 at Great Seneca Highway and Wisteria Drive to please call the police non-emergency number at 301-279-8000.
Top: Fernando Alverez, father of the 14-year-old boy who was struck by a hit and run driver while on his way to school, addresses the media and asks for anyone with information about the driver who hit his son to come forward.
Next: The bike which Adi Alverez was riding when he was hit by a white minivan while crossing Great Seneca Highway on his way to school on the morning of Oct. 6.
Next: Officer Bob Ladany addresses the media about the hit and run accident.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.