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At fatal intersection, residents remember, demand answers

Wednesday - 9/3/2014, 6:46am  ET

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Riverdale Park Mayor Vernon Archer speaks with residents at Tuesday's vigil. (WTOP/Liz Anderson)

Liz Anderson, wtop.com

RIVERDALE PARK, Md. -- Community members gathered Tuesday night to remember Thelma Flores, the woman who died as she tried to shield her daughter from an oncoming car as they crossed Riverdale Road Monday.

Witnesses say Flores, 30, and her 3-year-old daughter, Isabella, were walking in the crosswalk near the intersection with Kenilworth Avenue when they were hit. The driver stayed on the scene.

At a candlelight vigil Tuesday evening, supporters chanted for justice. Some also confronted the mayor and police chief, wanting to know why the driver is not in custody.

"County police handle any investigation that involves a death," Mayor Vernon Archer replied.

"Where's the guy? Where's the guy," said a man who identified himself as Juan. "That's the question. They let him go [Monday]. Why'd they let him go? It's not right," he added.

"I understand how you feel," Archer replied. "I can't answer that, though. I cannot answer that."

Thelma Flores and her daughter, Isabella. (WTOP/Liz Anderson)

Also, some at the vigil wondered why there is no traffic light at the intersection. Archer says Riverdale Road is a state highway.

"Maryland makes the decisions on what goes here and what doesn't go here," he said. "Less than two years ago, a young lady was hit on this exact intersection. We in Riverdale Park asked the state to come in and investigate improving this intersection, putting some type of safety improvements in so this didn't happen. The state did their evaluation and said that it was not warranted. There had not been sufficient accidents here."

Archer says his office will again press for a traffic light.

"It's time to re-evaluate," he said.

Meanwhile, Riverdale Park Police Chief David Morris fielded questions from supporters who say witnesses saw Flores and her daughter in the crosswalk.

"You've got to allow the investigation to run its course," Morris told them through a translator. "A tremendous amount of science and physics go into figuring these dynamics. They'll determine if speed was a factor. They'll determine if distracted driving was a factor; they'll determine if roadway causation was a factor," Morris told the group gathered around him.

Morris also urged those who saw the accident to come forward.

"We need the witnesses and we'll get that information to the county police."

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