Potomac man sentenced to 12 years for car crash that killed three family members

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ROCKVILLE, MD — A Potomac man was sentenced to 12 years in prison for his role in a car crash that killed three members of a family. Moments before the crash, the man’s car had been going over three times the speed limit.

"This was a bullet. This was a missile. Going down the street on this particular evening and it’s not the first time this kid got behind the wheel of a car and acted like it was a bullet or a missile,” said Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy.

Ogulcan Atakoglu, 20, had pled guilty to three counts of vehicular manslaughter and was sentenced to 30 years in prison, with all but 12 years suspended.

Charging documents state that on the night of February 27, 2016, Atakoglu was driving down River Road in Bethesda. The speed limit on that street is 45 MPH, but a accident reconstruction team said Atakoglu was driving 115 MPH seconds before he crashed into another car.

That car was carrying four members of the Buarque de Macedo family. They were trying to turn left onto Pyle Road went Atakoglu hit them. At the time of impact, Atakoglu was estimated to have been driving 70 MPH.

The crash killed three of the Buarque de Macedo family: father Michael, 52, mother Alessandra, 53, and son Thomas, 18. The daughter Helena, 15, was the only one who survived.

"The de Macedo family was robbed of a golden family and almost robbed of two golden children,” said McCarthy.

McCarthy added that Atakoglu had a history of speeding violations and a least one other crash.

"This is a young man who had a proclivity for speeding. Recklessness. The endangerment of other people,” said McCarthy. He added that Atakoglu only had his license suspended once for 30 days, but felt with his track record, Atakoglu’s parents should have stepped in. "I think the message is to parents. Be a parent and make the tough decision."

After the sentencing, Atakoglu’s lawyer expressed the condolences from his family.

"This is a grievous and horrible tragedy and it will have effects on both families for the rest of their lives,” said attorney David Felsen.

Atakoglu will be eligible to apply for parole after serving three years of his sentence. Whenever his is released, he also faces five years of supervised probation and 150 hours of community service.