Fatal Car Crash Reveals Troubled Young Lives
BETHESDA, Md. (WUSA) -- Sources tell 9News that alcohol was a factor in the New Year's Day car crash that claimed the lives of two young people and left three others injured. Sources also say at least two of the five people in the car were homeless.
"He was really nice. He was really sweet. He was always kind to everybody," said a tear-stained young woman at a late afternoon vigil on Monday.
She was talking about Nick Clayton who was 20 years old. Just three days before Christmas, his Rockville home was condemned, deemed unfit to live in by the county, infested with bugs, filled with trash, his water service cut off. Nick's mother died a few months ago. His father, sources say, left town and moved to Florida.
"I was like shocked because I had just seen him last week," said Clayton's neighbor, Wendy Ward.
"He had a part-time job. He worked at FedEx Field. He was a nice kid, a young kid, a lot of friends. Just liked having fun," she said.
Also dead: Kaitlin Marie Gallagher, 18 years old and in her second trimester of pregnancy, according to her friends. They knew her as KeKe Karlsson. She had attended the Lab School in Washington.
"It's terrifying. It's really terrifying. She's too young to die. Anyone in that age is too young to die," said a former classmate.
Clayton and Gallagher were passengers in the white 2007 Chevy Trail Blazer that was traveling west on Jones Bridge Road toward Lancaster Drive in Bethesda. The driver lost control of the car, barreled over the sidewalk, hit a fence and slammed into a tree.
"Just to think that someone so young never had the chance to fulfill anything that she wanted. It's just terrifying. If anything, I don't want to lose anyone else," said Sophia Tuomala, Kaitlin's friend.
On a bitter cold afternoon, friends and family of the victims and the three survivors brought flowers and huddled together to mourn. 18 year old survivor Conor Hayes arrived at the vigil in a wheelchair. Also injured was 19 year-old Kevin Russel of Chevy Chase.
"People take drunk driving commercials and buzzed driving commercials as a joke. When your parents say they really will pick you up from any situation, you're gonna get grounded but you're gonna be alive," said Aubrey Fick, a friend of one of the survivors.
The driver of the car was identified as 22-year-old Roderick Eugene Brice, II, of Clarksburg. Brice remains hospitalized at Shock Trauma in Baltimore. Charges against him are pending.