Yesterday, the District Attorney’s office dropped its charges against Jorge Fretts, the driver who killed Emily Fredricks on November 28, 2017. Despite dashcam and onstreet footage showing that Mr. Fretts did not use his turn signal when he turned right from Spruce Street onto 11th Street, striking Emily when she was in the bike lane, none of the charges filed by the District Attorney in 2019 were accepted by judges in several courts.
Emily’s family had no say the decision to drop charges and were never able to have their day in court.
It is unconscionable that someone with a commercial driver’s license can drive on a city street, make a right turn without using their turn signal or look into their blind spot, kill a young woman due that action and then not be held accountable. It’s a sign of how biased our judicial system is that gives drivers full benefit of the doubt and sets an unreasonably high bar of intent and recklessness before a driver will even be considered to be held criminally liable if they injure or kill someone.
We grieve for Emily’s parents and brothers who have worked so hard to bring their daughter a measure of justice. They have been amazing advocates and champions for road safety and Vision Zero, lending their voices to several advocacy campaigns to make Philadelphia and Pennsylvania roads safe for all users. In 2018, they co-founded Families for Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia with other families of have lost loved ones to traffic violence in the Philadelphia area.
Families for Safe Streets has been working to change how we think about traffic fatalities. They want to shine a light on how the design of our roads impacts its users. Emily’s death was not an accident but an unfortunate consequence of designing our roads for cars and not people.
HB140, legislation that the Bicycle Coalition has been advocating for since 2018 and which allows parking protected bike lanes to be accepted under the state’s vehicle code, is named for Emily Fredricks and Susan Hicks, a cyclist killed in Pittsburgh.