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Panhandler Killed in Middlebrook Road Crash

Most residents had seen him. Many had given him a dollar or two. Many expected the grizzled, rail-thin man who would shuffle up the median on Middlebrook Road and give each car a shaky wave. Maybe we’d pretend we didn’t see him and look away. He won’t be standing at that location anymore.

His name was Richard Lee Cooper. He was 64-years-old. He was killed this morning when the driver of an SUV lost control coming down the hill on Middlebrook Road from Waring Station Road and struck him as he was standing in the median. Richard Lee Cooper was listed by Montgomery County Police as being from an unconfirmed address.

The incident happened at approximately 10:44 am, on Tuesday, June 20. 5th District officers and Fire and Rescue personnel responded to the intersection of Great Seneca Highway and Middlebrook Road for the report of a pedestrian-involved collision.

According to police, the SUV was a silver 2003 Toyota Sequoia, driven by Rachelle Tankeu, 55, of Tilford Court in Germantown, was traveling west on Middlebrook Road. At the intersection with Great Seneca Highway, the Sequoia, for reasons still under investigation, left the roadway and struck a Cooper who was standing on the median.

After striking Cooper, the Sequoia struck a 1998 Ford Expedition that was attempting to make a left turn from northbound Great Seneca Highway onto westbound Middlebrook Road. The driver of the Expedition is identified as Gender Anelio Castillo Flores, 32, of Grey Eagle Court in Germantown.

The drivers of both vehicles and a passenger in the Ford were transported to a local hospital with serious injuries. Cooper was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Investigators from the Collision Reconstruction Unit continue to investigate the incident. All lanes of eastbound Middlebrook Road were closed. Great Seneca Highway was also closed in both directions from Middlebrook to Wisteria Drive. The road closures lasted until about 3:34 pm when detectives completed the investigation.

Anyone with information regarding this collision is asked to contact the Collision Reconstruction Unit at 240-773-6620.

This intersection was the scene of another multi-vehicle crash back on May 2, 2017. That crash which happened during the evening rush involved seven vehicles and left six people, including an 11-month-old infant and a 2-year-old girl with serious injuries. In that incident, the driver also lost control while traveling westbound, down the hill, on Middlebrook Road.

This also marks the second time that a panhandler has been struck by a vehicle in the Germantown area. In March of 2015, a female panhandler suffered traumatic injuries after being struck on Germantown Road at about 1:30 in the afternoon.


Top: Detectives from the Montgomery County Collision Reconstruction Unit investigate the area on the median on Middlebrook Road where Richard Lee Cooper was known to stand.

Next: The 2003 Toyota Sequoia ended up facing westbound in the far lane of the eastbound lane of Middlebrook Road and striking a tree on the sidewalk near Seneca Valley High School.

Next: The gray Ford Expedition which ended up in the middle of the intersection, was struck while attempting to make a left turn from Great Seneca Highway onto westbound Middlebrook Road.

Next: MCFRS and MCPD at the scene of the collision.

Next: The traffic sign which once stood at the end of the median on Middlebrook Road and Great Seneca Highway.

Photos by Germantown Pulse.

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