- The Washington Times - Monday, May 12, 2003

A drag race down University Boulevard may have caused a car accident that killed three men early yesterday morning in Wheaton, Montgomery County police said.

The three Silver Spring men were in a blue Toyota Cellica speeding west in the 2000 block of University Boulevard when the car jumped the curb and struck a utility pole. The collision occurred around 1:15 a.m. and ripped the car in half. Lt. Dave Falcinelli of the Montgomery County Police Department said the men died at the scene.

Killed in the crash were the driver, Edy Armando Merlos-Morales, 27; the front-seat passenger, Guillermo Manuel Guerra, 23; and the rear-seat passenger, Sergio Lopez, 32.

Investigators have questioned two men in another car that witnesses said appeared to be involved in an illegal street race with the Toyota.

If investigators determine a drag race caused the accident, the State’s Attorney’s Office will decide what, if any, charges to file. State law prohibits acting as a driver, timer or flagman in a drag race.

Containers of beer were found in the wrecked car, and investigators are awaiting toxicology tests from the Maryland State Medical Examiner’s Office, Lt. Falcinelli said.

He said the deadly wreck raised concern about illegal street racing in the area but that such crimes are not commonplace in the county.

“It seems many of these events are spontaneous and there are not in areas of the county that are known as drag strips,” Lt. Falcinelli said.

“Anytime there is a fatal, it is a concern for our office,” he said. “We are trying to get the message out that these are the tragic consequences that result from poor choices.”

The accident was the 14th fatal collision this year in Montgomery County, bringing the death toll to 17. Last year there were 66 fatal accidents in the county.

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