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September 26, 2022

Unsanctioned drag race in Wildwood leaves 2 people dead, prosecutors say

Lindsay Weakland, 18, and Timothy Ogden, 34, were innocent bystanders, investigators said. Gerald J. White, 37, has been charged in their deaths

Investigations Crashes
Drag Race Wildwood Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

A Pennsylvania driver participating in the H2Oi drag racing event struck and killed two innocent bystanders Saturday night in Wildwood, New Jersey, prosecutors say.

A Pittsburgh man was arrested following an unsanctioned drag racing event that left two people dead Saturday night in Wildwood. 

Gerald J. White, 37, who was driving a 2003 Infinity, allegedly struck a 2014 Honda Civic before hitting two pedestrians near Burk and Atlantic avenues around 9:30 p.m. When Wildwood police arrived at the scene, White attempted to flee, but was quickly apprehended, the Cape May County Prosecutor's Office said.

One of the pedestrians, Lindsay Weakland, 18, of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, died at the scene, prosecutor said. A passenger in the Honda, Timothy Ogden, 34, of Clayton, New Jersey, died after being transported to a nearby hospital. Ogden was struck shortly after he and his fiancé had left the Irish Fall Festival. 

Weakland and Ogden were each innocent bystanders, prosecutors said. 

The crash occurred during H2Oi, an unsanctioned drag racing rally held over the weekend in Wildwood and other beach towns. Last week, Wildwood leaders advised visitors and residents to be cautious due to the event, and reiterated the town's "zero-tolerance" policy for reckless driving. 

Mayor Pete Byron told the Inquirer that his first order of business Monday morning is to contact officials in Ocean City, Maryland, where the drag race was held in 2019 and 2020. Byron said he believes Ocean City officials must have come up with a solution to keep the drag race out of their town. 

"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," Prosecutor Jeffrey H. Sutherland said. "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 results in the destruction of public and private property." 

Sutherland noted that similar events were held in Rio Grande and Seaville in recent days, and warned those thinking of holding similar events in the future that there will be swift legal action taken against them. 

White has been charged with two counts of death by auto, two counts of assault by auto, one count of eluding, one count of leaving the scene of an accident, and one count of violation of laws to protect public safety. 

Anyone with information about the incident is urged to contact the Cape May County Prosecutor's Office at (609) 465-1135. Information can be reported anonymously through the county's anonymous tip system. Those with information about the crash or about H20i also can contact the Cape May County Sheriff's Tip Line or Cape May County Crime Stoppers at (609) 889-3597.