Elderly couple going to vote killed by vehicle near polling place in Gaithersburg
GAITHERSBURG, Md. - Election Day started off with a tragedy in Montgomery County after a witness tells FOX 5 an elderly couple, believed to be on their way to vote at a nearby polling location, were struck and killed by a speeding car.
Montgomery County police said a 65-year-old man and a 70-year-old woman were pronounced dead after being rushed to an area hospital.
Miguel and Ana Ortiz
Family confirmed the victims as Miguel and Ana Ortiz, who were on their way to vote.
The incident happened just outside Fields Road Elementary School by School Drive and Big Acre Square in Gaithersburg.
Community members told FOX 5 that the crosswalk sits on top of a hill on either side, so cars and trucks accelerating to get up the hill, end up slamming on their brakes when they see people in the crosswalk last minute.
There is usually a school crossing guard there during Fields Road Elementary's arrival and dismissal time. However, there was not one present on Tuesday morning due to MCPS being closed for Election Day.
The polling site opened at 7 a.m. A witness told FOX 5 that the crash didn’t happen until some 20-minutes later.
That witness, an Election Day volunteer named Nicole Ukiteyedi, said she had just shouted "hi" to the couple while they were at the crosswalk. Ukiteyedi says she turned around, heard a large boom, and then turned back to see the female victim in the air.
An emotional Ukiteyedi referred to the couple as "Mamma" and "Papa." She says many in the community know the couple as always walking around the neighborhood.
"The way I saw him, he couldn’t stop," Ukiteyedi said. "He was just like driving until I screamed, ‘you have to stop’ and I called the police right away."
In a video of the aftermath, Ukiteyedi shared, you can see both victims lying on the ground. The suspect driver can be seen standing by his open Prius driver-side door while a woman tries to help the couple.
A neighbor said the suspect driver stood like "a statue" the entire time.
FOX 5 cameras captured a smashed front windshield on the Prius.
The driver was seen taking a sobriety test at the scene of the collision.
Montgomery County police told FOX 5 that the driver is not arrested and is not in custody. But police said they are now investigating whether alcohol impairment was a factor.
Councilmember Evan Glass stopped by the polling location later on in the day and also went to view the spot where the incident took place.
He told FOX 5 that the elderly couple killed makes 14 fatalities so far this year and about 440 people hit on county roads. He also said the area of the crash is Gaithersburg City territory.
Miguel and Ana Ortiz and their nine grandchildren. (PHOTO: Mike Ortiz)
Ukiteyedi said she’s complained about the crosswalk before and shared the video hoping something will be done.
Montgomery County police have not yet released the identity of the driver.
The collision is still under investigation.