“Chaos” ensued at a days-long, unsanctioned pop-up car rally with hundreds of drivers, resulting in the deaths of two people along the Jersey Shore, officials say.
Now a driver is facing charges in connection with the two deaths after he tried fleeing the scene the evening of Sept. 24 in the seaside resort city of Wildwood, according to a Sept. 25 news release from the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office.
Gerald J. White, 37, of Pennsylvania crashed his car into a Honda before hitting two pedestrians, including 18-year-old Lindsay Weakland, also of Pennsylvania, who died at the scene after 9:30 p.m., the prosecutor’s office says.
The passenger of the Honda, Timothy Ogden 34, of Clayton, New Jersey, died from his injuries at a nearby hospital, according to the release.
— Beccah Hendrickson (@Beccah6abc) September 25, 2022
Prosecutor Jeffrey H. Sutherland says the organizers of the rally, known as H2Oi or H2O22, are to blame for the “tragic and dangerous events over the last several days.”
“I would first like to share my sincere condolences with the families of the two victims who were needlessly killed and those that have been injured,” Sutherland said in a statement.
“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 added.
On Sept. 21, the Wildwood Board of Commissioners warned the public that the unsanctioned car event was taking place Sept. 23 through the 25 in a news release. Police put extra officers on duty to monitor the event.
A woman visiting Wildwood during the car rally told 6ABC Philadelphia the rally was “out of control.”
“The noise started in the day and at night. They were like doing wheelies in the intersection, racing down one way streets,” Roy told the outlet. “It was pretty crazy.”
White faces several charges in connection with the two people killed, including two counts of death by auto, according to the prosecutor’s office. He was detained and awaiting court proceedings.
Wildwood Mayor Pete Byron described the car event as a “nightmare” as the crowds that showed up for the rally were larger than expected, according to Fox 29.
“They won’t be back next year,” Byron told the outlet. “I can look you in the eye and say it won’t happen.”
Sutherland is asking anyone with more information about the pop-up car rally to contact his office at 609-465-1135.
“We have heard of tragic deaths around this country based on stray bullets from illegal shootings hitting innocent bystanders and children; this is no different,” Sutherland said. “Driving a motor vehicle at a high speed in a populated area is essentially the same as discharging a firearm.”
Wildwood is about 90 miles southeast of Philadelphia.