February 27, 2019
Criminal charges have been filed against the driver of the trash truck that struck and killed a 24-year-old cyclist in Center City, more than a year after the woman's death, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner announced Wednesday.
Emily Fredericks died Nov. 28, 2017, from injuries she suffered in an early morning crash that occurred as she rode in a bike lane on Spruce Street. A sanitation truck owned by Gold Medal Environmental hit Fredericks as it turned onto 11th Street.
The driver of the truck, 28-year-old Jorge Fretts, is charged with homicide by vehicle, involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment of another person.
"We live in a society that increasingly gets around by bicycle," Krasner said. "And we have these things called bike lanes. They are like any other lane. They are to protect the people who travel within those lanes, and they have to be respected."
Last September, Gold Medal reached a $6 million settlement with Fredericks' family, including annual $25,000 donations from each to support road safety measures in Philadelphia over the next five years.
A camera inside the truck allegedly showed that at the time of the crash, Fretts wore earbuds, which would be a violation of Pennsylvania law, and could be seen looking at paperwork in the truck's center console instead of focusing on the road, authorities said.
"When drivers do things that are not merely accidental, not merely mistakes, but that are so unacceptable to us that they rise to the level of criminal recklessness ... and criminal negligence, then there have to be consequences," Krasner said.
Philadelphia has stepped up its commitment to meeting the Vision Zero road safety goals it outlined in a plan around the time of Fredericks' death.
"The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia and Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia welcome this update in the case," cycling advocates said in a statement. "But this in no way makes up for what happened to Emily and her family."
To honor Fredericks' memory, cyclists will again form a "human protected bike lane" at the site of the crash on Thursday morning.