(ROCKVILLE, MD) – The Maryland State Police investigation into the traffic crash that claimed the lives of two law enforcement officers late last year in Montgomery County has concluded and the driver involved has been charged with negligent driving.
The driver is identified as Roberto A. Garza Palacios, 28, of Germantown, Md. After a review of the investigation by the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office, it was determined he was to be charged with negligent driving, a violation of Transportation Article 21-901.1(b). When contributing to an accident, this charge carries a penalty of a $280 fine and three points. Garza Palacios met with State Police at the Rockville Barrack in mid-April and was issued the citation. Signing the citation is not an admission of guilt.
The charge is a result of the investigation by the Maryland State Police Crash Team into a crash that occurred at about 10:00 p.m. on December 8, 2017, on southbound I-270, north of Falls Road. Deputy Chief State Fire Marshal Sander Cohen of the Maryland Office of the State Fire Marshal and FBI Special Agent Carlos Wolff, were both killed in the crash.
Deputy Chief State Fire Marshal Cohen was off-duty and driving south on I-270 when he came upon Special Agent Wolff’s personal vehicle disabled in the travel lane. He immediately called the Maryland State Police Rockville Barrack for assistance and blocked the damaged vehicle with his own, while activating his emergency flashers in an attempt to safeguard the scene. The actions of Deputy Chief State Fire Marshal Cohen placed him in an official on-duty status at that time.
Both Deputy Chief State Fire Marshal Cohen and Special Agent Wolff moved to the shoulder of the fast lane. The investigation showed a southbound 2000 Honda Accord, driven by Garza Palacios, swerved to the left of the stopped vehicles because he was unable to move to the right due to traffic. The Honda struck both men as they stood on the highway shoulder. Both victims were thrown over the jersey wall to the northbound side of I-270.
Palacios stopped his vehicle just south of the crash and remained at the scene. The investigation found that alcohol, drugs and speed were not factors in this crash.