Wildwood crash h2oi, New Jersey (WPVI) — A Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania man is facing charges after two people were killed in Wildwood, New Jersey during an “unsanctioned” car event known as H20i.
It happened Saturday around 9:36 p.m. in the area of Burk and Atlantic avenues.
H2Oi Wildwood Crash: 2 Killed During Unsanctioned Pop-Up NJ Car Rally
According to the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office, Gerald J. White, 37, was behind the wheel of a 2003 Infinity when he crashed into a 2014 Honda Civic and then two pedestrians.
Authorities say one of the pedestrians died. She’s been identified as 18-year-old Lindsay Weakland, of Carlise, Pennsylvania.
Timothy Ogden, 34, of Clayton, New Jersey, was a passenger in the Honda Civic and also died from his injuries. Family members say he had just left the Irish Fall Festival with his fiance when they were struck.
There was no immediate word on the condition of the second pedestrian.
— Beccah Hendrickson (@Beccah6abc) September 25, 2022
Authorities say White tried to flee the scene after the crash, but he was later arrested. He is being charged with two counts of death by auto, assault by auto, and other related offenses.
The Action Cam captured multiple vehicles smashed in the aftermath of the crash.
On Friday, officials in Wildwood issued a warning about the event, which they called “unsanctioned.” They boosted patrols to try to prevent it.
2 Killed, More Injured at Unsanctioned Wildwood Car Rally *𝗦𝗲𝗻𝘀𝗶𝘁𝗶𝘃𝗲 𝗠𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗮𝗹* https://t.co/bY8QXtGeSn One person has been charged and was taken into police custody in connection with the deadly crash. pic.twitter.com/8BdZPjJROn
— 𝗥𝗢𝗗𝗥𝗜𝗤𝗨𝗘𝗭 (@rodriQuez) September 25, 2022
State police were called to help control the chaos, along with local departments from Atlantic City, Ocean City, Upper Township, Lower Township, Middle Township, and Cape May.
Officials also closed down the George Redding Bridge to get control of the situation. The bridge has since reopened.
Nancy Roy described her weekend girl’s trip to the shore as scary and 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.
CHAOS IN WILDWOOD. One person is dead and several are injured after several crashes in Wildwood overnight. It all started with an H2Oi unsanctioned party where hundreds were driving recklessly through the island. Police are trying to clear the cars out this morning @6abc pic.twitter.com/81RcU4LvO3
— Beccah Hendrickson (@Beccah6abc) September 25, 2022
The H2Oi gathering had previously been held in Ocean City, Maryland where chaos also broke out involving speeding cars and crashes.
Police in Wildwood said they would have a zero-tolerance policy for these kinds of car shows.
Officers are reviewing several videos posted online that capture the chaos. Authorities say additional charges may be filed.
Cape May County Prosecutor Jeffrey H. Sutherland released this statement on the incident:
“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. Their lives will be forever changed. Make no mistake that the tragic and dangerous events over the last several days in Wildwood, Rio Grande, Seaville, and surrounding communities are a direct result of the organizers of a pop-up car rally self-identified as H2Oi or H2O22. 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. Anyone thinking of engaging in organizing any type of similar pop-up event is forewarned that there will be swift and appropriate law enforcement and legal response.
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. Driving a motor vehicle at a high speed in a populated area is essentially the same as discharging a firearm.
The results are the same, death and injury. Further, the size and weight of a motor vehicle also result in the destruction of private and public property.
I would like to commend the members of the Cape May County Prosecutors Office, Wildwood Police Department, Middle Township Police Department, New Jersey State Police, Atlantic City Police Department, and all of our local law enforcement partners who responded thru mutual aid to gain control of the situation as well as the fire and medical first responders who provided assistance to the victims.”
What is H2oi? What we know about car events linked to multiple accidents, and bedlam in Wildwood.
The H2oi or H2022 show began in the late 1990s, according to online posts by organizers online, who have billed it “The Original ‘Laid Back’ 2 Day Watercooled VW/Audi Event.”
But information about Saturday’s unofficial pop-up rally was not available on the website. Its website lists Ocean City, Maryland as its location and “work hours” which don’t include Sunday, but it’s unclear if it maintains a physical office. When reached by NJ Advance Media, the phone number and email listed on the website appeared to be disconnected.
The event Saturday was promoted in advance on a public Facebook page that was no longer available after the accidents. According to The Press of Atlantic City, more than 10,000 people said they were interested in attending the event over the weekend and 3,000 said they were committed to going.
Some have posted on a public Facebook group and elsewhere online that H2oi organizers were not responsible for Saturday’s unruly behavior — which included drivers speeding down streets, patrons throwing bottles at police cars and people performing donuts at intersections while others recorded on their phones — as the original show organizers did not sanction the pop-up rally.
According to a 2018 post from an Instagram page listed as “h2oi”, the event moved to New Jersey in 2018.
“We’re moving on up the East Coast, as the 20th edition of H2O International will open a new chapter for the event!” reads a post promoting an event Sept. 28-30. “We are excited that The Showboat Boardwalk Hotel in Atlantic City will be the all-inclusive venue for H2Oi.”
The Showboat Boardwalk Hotel did not immediately respond for comment Sunday.
Leading into this weekend, officials in the Wildwood area said they were adding patrols in anticipation of the crowds. Early Sunday morning, Wildwood commissioners issued a statement saying they needed additional assistance from New Jersey State Police and local departments in Atlantic County as things escalated.
“Every available police officer and fire patrol was called in, and despite being grossly outmanned, are doing a great job as dispatch works extremely hard to keep up with the calls,” the city said.
Maryland authorities also prepared, a dispatcher from the Ocean City Police Department told NJ Advance Media on Sunday.
A “Special Event Zone” was put in place from Tuesday to Sunday for the pop-up rally.
“The Special Event Zone reduces established speed limits in the zone and increases fines for violations. The maximum speed limit in Ocean City will be 30 mph. Additionally, legislation signed in 2020 allows for increased penalties for specific motor vehicle violations,” Ocean City, Maryland, authorities said in an online bulletin. “Similar to a Construction Zone, violators will face increased fines or, in some cases, arrest.”
Police in Ocean City, Md., was not immediately available to comment further.
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