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The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

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April 18, 2024

Driver from tragic River Road crash pleads guilty

Racing down River Road at 115 miles per hour, driver Ogulcan Atakoglu saw the Buarque de Macedo family’s car turn into view. Despite his efforts to slow his car, Atakoglu still hit the family at nearly 75 miles per hour, according to a Montgomery County police conducted report.

Five months after the tragic car crash, Atakoglu pleaded guilty to three counts of vehicular manslaughter Aug. 8 in the Montgomery County Circuit Court. Atakoglu will remain in prison until he is sentenced Nov. 7. He faces up to 30 years in prison for the charges.

His speed and history of negligent driving allow for maximum sentencing, but Maryland sentencing guidelines, which provide additional sentencing advice for the court, suggest three months to four years for each of the vehicular manslaughter counts.

Regardless of his ultimate sentence, Atakoglu understands his role in the crash and hopes to prevent both parties from witnessing the agony of a trial by pleading guilty, attorney David Felsen said.

Prior to the accident on River Road, Atakoglu had been charged with driving related offenses multiple times. Graphic by Ann Morgan Jacobi.
Prior to the accident on River Road, Atakoglu had been charged with driving related offenses multiple times. Graphic by Ann Morgan Jacobi.

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“He accepts responsibility for his part in this tragedy,” Felsen said. “He didn’t desire to put the family or himself through a trial, and he accepts what happened that night, so that’s why he entered his guilty plea.”

Even though Atakoglu has accepted responsibility for the crash, his guilty plea is only the beginning of his amends, Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office spokesperson Ramon Korionoff said.

“Today’s guilty plea is the first step towards the long road of taking responsibility by Mr. Atakoglu,” Korionoff said in a statement Aug. 8. “While he and his family may feel the emotional sting of jail time, we believe the judge’s decision to hold him pending sentencing is the just and fair action to take.”

For the community, the knowledge that Atakoglu is off the roads is a relief, SGA president Ari Gutman said.

“The community will be more relaxed knowing that justice has been served, as well as the fact that an unsafe driver is no longer on the streets,” Gutman said. “I hope the news reinforces that impaired driving isn’t the only form of unsafe driving.”

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Lily Friedman
Lily Friedman, Online Editor-in-Chief

Grade: 12

 

Interests: Writing, sports, politics, music, hiking

 

Why did you join the Black & White?  
I've always loved telling stories, so journalism provided me with a medium to investigate stories in my community and relate those stories to national trends.

Why are you well suited to write/edit for your section or to perform your job?
Last year, I expanded from my base as a news writer to cover everything from county education policy to the reasoning behind my passion for country music. I love writing, finding trends, and compiling information, so my job as an editor is really more of a pleasure than a job for me.

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