Man charged with 2 deaths at Wildwood, NJ H2Oi pop-up car rally
WILDWOOD — Two people are dead after one of several crashes during an unsanctioned pop-up car rally Saturday evening that brought large, unruly crowds to South Jersey.
Gerald White, 37, of Pittsburgh, is charged with two counts each of death by auto and assault by auto for hitting the two victims shortly after 9:30 p.m., Cape May County Prosecutor Jeffrey Sutherland said.
Wildwood police were called to the intersection of Burk and Atlantic Avenues at that time for reports of a crash involving pedestrians, according to Sutherland. They found that White, driving a 2003 Infinity struck a Honda Civic and then multiple pedestrians.
Sutherland said that one pedestrian, identified as Lindsay Weakland, 18, of Carlisle, PA, was pronounced dead at the scene. A passenger in the Honda Civic identified as Timothy Ogden, 34, of Clayton, was taken to Atlantic City Medical Center but died soon after.
White is accused of attempting to flee the scene of the accident. He is also charged with eluding, leaving the scene of an accident, and violation of laws to protect public safety. Prosecutors said more charges could still be filed against him.
Sutherland and other local officials strongly condemned the H20i pop-up car rally.
"Directing hundreds if not thousands of people driving high-performance
vehicles to an area without any planning, staging or permitting created the chaos that
led to these deaths and injuries," Sutherland said. He warned that law enforcement would have "a swift and appropriate" response to any future similar events.
Mayor Pete Byron called Governor Phil Murphy for assistance as the situation spiraled out of control, according to a statement from the Wildwood Board of Commissioners.
Byron told NJ.com that there were also injuries from another crash on Rio Grande Avenue involving a golf cart. Graphic videos from that incident were shared on social media and showed two vehicles stopped at an intersection suddenly accelerating into oncoming traffic.
The severity of injuries from the crash on Rio Grande Avenue is still unclear. It appeared that one person in the golf cart was unresponsive as a woman cried out for someone to call the police.
Other videos on social media showed vehicles performing burnouts, donuts, and similar stunts in the streets.
Another video posted Sunday morning showed two vehicles swerving between lanes on the Garden State Parkway leaving Wildwood.
Police warned last week that there would be "zero tolerance" for reckless drivers and lawbreakers.
Wildwood police did not respond to New Jersey 101.5's request on Sunday for more information.