Bicyclists to Rally for Appeal in Emily Fredricks Case
The Bicycle Coalition will gather outside the DA’s Office on Friday to protest a Philadelphia judge’s recent dismissal of charges against the driver of the trash truck that struck and killed Fredricks in 2017.
Bicyclists will hold a rally outside of Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office on Friday to demand an appeal in the case of Jorge Fretts, the driver of the trash truck that struck and killed 24-year-old bicyclist Emily Fredricks on Spruce Street in 2017.
The move comes two days after a Philadelphia judge dismissed charges of vehicular homicide, involuntary manslaughter, and reckless endangerment against Fretts, who was operating a Gold Metal Environment truck on a sunny November morning when it turned right from Spruce Street onto 11th Street, striking and killing Fredricks, who was using a bike lane beside the truck.
The DA’s Office announced charges against Fretts in February after, prosecutors said, evidence revealed that Fretts was wearing headphones and looking down into the vehicle’s central console when he made the fatal turn.
The high-profile crash strengthened bicyclists’ ongoing push for more street safety infrastructure and driver accountability in Philadelphia, home to one of the worst traffic fatality rates in the nation. According to a February study by the Bicycle Coalition, only about 16 percent of motorists who kill bicyclists and pedestrians in Philly are ever charged with a crime.
In a statement on Friday, the Bicycle Coalition said it had been “expecting this case to be a turning point.”
“It’s time for a change,” the organization said. “Allowing motorists to kill bicyclists without any consequence in Philadelphia must end … The DA’s office is critical to creating the cultural shift that so desperately must happen.”
At noon, the Bicycle Coalition will deliver a package of letters to the DA’s Office in Center City requesting that it appeal Judge Lillian Ransom‘s decision. Members are asking anyone concerned about the case to write letters to the DA; you can find more information on their plans here.
Cameron Kline, a spokesperson for the DA’s Office, said on Friday morning that prosecutors have yet to decide whether they’ll appeal. The office has 30 days after the judge’s decision to do so.
Fretts’s attorney, David Bahuriak, argued in a motion to quash the charges that Fretts was not acting recklessly or with gross negligence – nor violating any traffic laws — at the time of the crash. Prosecutors are required to make a substantive case for both to establish criminal liability.
For months following the deadly crash, the Bicycle Coalition centered its ongoing road safety campaign on the bike lanes along Spruce and Pine streets, two of the busiest cyclist thoroughfares in the city. Advocates pushed the city to make the roads’ current bike lanes protected, meaning physically separated from cars by barriers like plastic delineator posts.
Instead of doing so, the city’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability, which oversees bike lanes in Philly, put forth a plan to swap the lanes from the right to the left side of the road (an effort, they said, to reduce right-hook turns like the one that killed Fredricks, among other things). Construction on that project is currently underway.