(Oct. 5, 2018) Almost one year after her husband was killed during car rally in Ocean City, resident Renae Lawlor pleaded with the Ocean City Council to find a way to reduce traffic during those kinds of special events.
Her husband was struck and killed by a State police vehicle on Oct. 6 last year during the Endless Summer Cruisin’ festivities. The state trooper driving the car was on his way to assist another officer when Thomas Lawlor, 57, apparently walked into its path.
“I have a personal reason to be here,” said Lawlor on Monday. “My husband was killed during a car show event last year. I really didn’t want to be here … but I thought it was my civic duty to be before you and tell my story.
“What I want to talk about is the amount of traffic,” she continued. “If you really want to get real about solving these problems, you have to look at the [number] of cars that you let in town. How to do it, I don’t know. Is it going to cost people money because you are not going to allow these cars here? Probably. That’s number one because no amount of constraint, policies or eight-foot sidewalks are going to change the amount of cars you have on a 10-mile island. It’s just not going to do it.”
Lawlor referred to the overwhelming number of cars that dominate the highway during car show events such as Endless Summer or the unsanctioned tuner car event last week. Lawlor addressed the city’s efforts such as the implementation of the special event zone, with reduced speed limits and higher fines as a deterrent for danger road behaviors.
“[Also], I want to find out what policies have you looked at as far as fatigue and distracted driving on part of EMS and the town, and the police,” Lawlor said. “Has a committee member looked at those items?”
She specifically spoke to Mayor Rick Meehan and Councilman Tony DeLuca regarding the safety efforts required to avoid more tragedies from occurring in the future.
“Recently, in the report, 22 pedestrian collisions occurred, two fatalities,” Lawlor said regarding statistics from last year. “Both occurred during car show events.
Members of the council and Meehan expressed their gratitude for Lawlor approaching them about the issue and said they will consider her insights.
“Your comments were compelling and what we sometimes need to hear to move forward in the right direction,” said Meehan. “Sometimes, comments like that help guide us as we look for solutions. We’ll be vigilant in our pursuit to find answers for this community.”
Councilman John Gehrig also thanked Lawlor for her testimony, and assured her the council is genuinely concerned about the matter.
“I’m sorry for your loss and we take those suggestions very seriously,” Gehrig said. “We know there are challenges and none of us want those challenges. There is positive momentum with the (motor events task force) committee and if we’re given the latitude for further enforcement, I think we can really solve some of these problems, but it is moving in the right direction.
“None of us want these problems and you have our commitment, and I think I speak for all of us, that we’re going to work our tails off to make this right for all of us because we live here too,” he said.