Three Die, Six Injured in Henry Ave Crash — UPDATED

Henry Ave’s rain-slick roads claimed two young lives earlier this month (and another last night). Now new signs & memorial remind drivers of the importance of seatbelts. Town News Today’s Judy Gotwald reports from East Falls.  

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The Wissahickon curve on north end of the Henry Avenue Bridge’s straightaway claimed two lives on Sunday afternoon, May 1 (and another Sunday night, May 8). The collision seriously injured five others in the same car. Injuries were less serious for two occupants of the second car.

Traffic was rerouted for several hours. Although the accident happened on a Sunday afternoon, traffic has been noticeably heavier since the closing of the Walnut Lane Bridge in April.

A northbound 2005 Mazda traveling crossed the center lane on the curve, striking a second vehicle traveling southbound. All unsecured occupants of the northbound vehicle were ejected and found lying face down.

Eric Barksdale-Perez, 6, and Zaire Ross-Wilson, 20, were killed. Injured were the driver, a 25-year-old woman, a 7-week-old baby girl, a 23-year-old woman, and two boys, 4 and 5. The infant girl was the only person strapped in.

Two off-duty police provided early assistance, along with other passersby, before emergency vehicles arrived.

Philadelphia Police Accident Investigation Capt. John Wilczynski commented that the use of seatbelts would likely have lessened the severity of injuries. “This is very unfortunate.”

Victims were taken to St. Christopher’s, Einstein and Temple hospitals.

The suspected cause of the accident is the wet road surfaces.

Originally published at Town News Today for East Falls, Manayunk & Roxborough (the area’s only hyper-local hard news outlet)

UPDATE 5/8/16:

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NBC Philadelphia reports the 20-year-old male killed in the crash was the father of the injured infant, who passed away the evening of Sunday May 8th. No charges have been filed yet although Pennsylvania law requires children up to age 8 be restrained in either a car seat or booster (over 8, belted in).

A moving memorial appeared almost immediately, and has collected a variety of items: stuffed animals, candles, mass cards, balloons, peppermint lifesavers. On the back of an East Falls Sports Association lawn sign, someone wrote “SEATBELTS ARE LIFESAVERS, Rest In Peace.”  — ed.

About Judy Gotwald & Town News Today:   Judy’s lived in the Germantown/Wissahickon area since the 80’s, and was a dedicated member of Redeemer Lutheran Church until the congregation was forced out — quite dramatically, in fact. Judy’s ambitious plans to repurpose Redeemer into community space inspire dreams of what’s possible when developers value more than just the bottom line. FOLLOW TOWN NEWS TODAY for real local news about your neighborhood. 

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3 Comments

  • Janice Thomas

    I was on the scene that day and the images have haunted me every day since. I wish I knew who the two off duty police officers were, they are true heros! My granddaughter and I placed the first ballons and Mass cards on Monday, I’m happy to see the seat belts sign in place to remind people!

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