Tuesday, November 10, 2015

PGPD Investigates Collision Involving Church Van That Left Five Dead

Updated November 10, 2015: We are identifying the names of three victims from inside the van who were killed: six-year-old Staily Gomez of Piney Branch Road in Northwest Washington and 75-year-old Santiago Merche and his wife, 72-year-old Elba Merche, of Ingram Street in Northwest Washington. Investigators are working to confirm the name of the pickup truck driver also killed in the crash. 

The Prince George’s County Police Department’s Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Unit is investigating the cause of a tragic crash in Chillum that left five dead including one child and an unborn baby.

On November 8, 2015, shortly before 5:00 pm, patrol officers were called to the 2100 block of Chillum Road for the report of the crash involving a pickup truck and a van from a church in Riverdale. The van was carrying 16 people. The driver of the pickup truck and three occupants of the van were pronounced dead on the scene. A pregnant woman in the van who suffered serious injuries had to have emergency surgery and lost the baby.

The preliminary investigation reveals the pickup truck had been involved in a hit-and-run crash with a car in the westbound lanes of Chillum Road. The truck’s driver didn’t stop and instead fled the crash scene. Moments later, he lost control of the truck, crossed the double yellow line and struck the church van which had been heading eastbound on Chillum Road. After colliding with the van, the truck burst into flames.

The driver of the rear-ended car suffered minor injuries. The 13 other occupants in the van were rushed to various hospitals for treatment. The victims range in age from six months old to several in their 70s. Their conditions range from minor to critical.

Names of the deceased victims will be released once their families are notified. Investigators are looking into whether the victims were wearing seat belts and if the children in the van were in child safety seats.

Anyone with information about this collision is asked to call the Prince George’s County Police Department’s Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Unit at (301) 731-4422. Callers wishing to remain anonymous call Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS, text “PGPD plus your message” to CRIMES (274637) or go to www.pgcrimesolvers.com.

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