An early-morning car crash on Horseshoe Lane in Potomac’s River Falls neighborhood killed the passenger, 23-year-old Michael Joseph Peterson and left the driver, 22-year-old Kevin Melanson hospitalized in critical condition.
According to Derek Baliles of Montgomery County Police, a 1997 Nissan 240 SX that Melanson was driving braked as it was traveling westbound on Horseshoe Lane, skidded, struck a curb on the south side of the road, then struck two trees on the front yard of a residence on the 7800 block of Horseshoe Lane. The accident occurred just after 3 a.m. on Friday morning, July 29.
The trees that the car struck were both uprooted, said Thomas Jones, deputy chief of Cabin John.
Units from Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Department, Rockville Volunteer Fire Department, Montgomery County Police and Montgomery County Fire and Rescue responded to the site of the accident minutes later. Peterson was pronounced dead on the scene.
The car was equipped with air bags and seat belts, and Baliles said preliminary investigations indicated that Melanson was wearing a seat belt. Cabin John’s heavy-duty extrication tools were on the scene, but no hydraulic tools were necessary to remove Melanson from the car.
Most of the wreckage was unrecognizable as a car, according to one River Falls resident who heard the collision and saw the wreckage before it was removed later that morning. Other residents along Horseshoe reported being awakened by the roaring engine of a car just before hearing the crash.
The Collision Reconstruction Unit of Montgomery County Police seeks information from anybody who may have witnessed the accident, or has additional information about it (see “Information Sought,” above.
“At this point, they’re not attributing it to any particular cause,” Baliles said. “[The accident] remains under investigation, and no determination of fault — if any — can be made until the full investigation is completed.” The investigation process, which is followed by a review by the state’s attorney, typically takes several months, Baliles said.
Pedro Mayorga, a friend of Peterson's since middle school, led a group of friends in building a memorial garden at the corner of Brickyard Road and Horseshoe Lane, several blocks from the site of the accident. “There’s not much you can do when you’re grieving, sitting there helpless,” Mayorga said. “It was nice to see everybody come together.”
On Monday afternoon, Melanson remained hospitalized in critical condition, Baliles said.
Peterson’s father, Bob Peterson, sent out an e-mail after the accident. “Please pray for his friend Kevin - who is fighting for his life,” Bob Peterson said in the e-mail, adding that the two were best friends. Melanson lives on Brickyard Road, and the Petersons also lived on Brickyard as the two attended elementary and middle school.