- The Washington Times - Monday, January 2, 2012

Montgomery County Police have identified the 20-year-old man and 18-year-old woman who died early Sunday when a sport utility vehicle in which they were riding struck a tree on Jones Bridge Road in Bethesda.

The pair, Nicholas Scott Clayton and Kaitlin Marie Gallagher, were in the front passenger seat and rear-right seat, respectively, of the Chevy Trailblazer when the accident occurred shortly before 3 a.m. on the grounds of the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center near Lancaster Drive, police said. Neither of their addresses was available as of Monday morning.

Police are investigating why the vehicle veered off the right side of the road, traveled over the sidewalk and crashed through a fence before striking the tree on the stretch of road about halfway between Rockville Pike and Connecticut Avenue.

The driver, Roderick Eugene Brice II, 22, of Clarks Crossing Drive in Clarksburg, was taken to the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore in serious condition, police said.

The rear-center-seat passenger, Conor John Hayes, 18, of Nicholson Lane in Rockville, and rear-left-seat passenger, Kevin Seiji Russel, 19, of Willard Avenue in Chevy Chase, were taken to Suburban Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, police said.

Montgomery County police Capt. Paul Starks noted that there is a curve in the road near the accident scene. Police were investigating whether alcohol or excessive speed were factors.

Capt. Starks told WTOP Radio that police found beer cans in the vehicle but noted that “the fact that cans of alcoholic beverage were inside that vehicle doesn’t mean the driver had any amount in his system.”

The vehicle had temporary D.C. tags, and the department’s accident-reconstruction team evaluated tire marks and other evidence at the scene, a process that closed Jones Bridge Road for several hours.

Police also are investigating whether Mr. Clayton and Ms. Gallagher were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.

The three surviving occupants were wearing seat belts, police said.

Police are asking anyone with information about the accident to call the Collision Reconstruction Unit at 301/840-2435.

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