What Needs to be Said About the Deadly H20i Car Rally in Wildwood, NJ
I found myself, ironically, driving around Sunday night thinking about the events that unfolded in Wildwood this weekend and instead of getting angrier and angrier, I decided to put pen to paper here.
If you were part of the problem in and around Wildwood this weekend, what the F is wrong with you?
Two people are dead.
Businesses were damaged, towns were trashed, residents were terrorized, first responders were outnumbered.
And two people are dead.
All so you could show off your car.
Your stupid, little F'ing car.
All so you could smoke your tires on Rio Grande Avenue. All so you could race on Route 347 or up the Parkway.
What the F is wrong with you?
This isn't Grand Theft Auto. People died this weekend.
So you could show off your car.
But what do you care? You came into town, trashed the place, and left in under 48 hours.
But don't worry. We'll clean up your mess. You know how when a 6-year-old makes a mess and a responsible person has to clean it up? That's us. And you're the child who doesn't know any better, who doesn't care, and who doesn't grasp the basic concept of responsibility.
We'll clean up the mess. We'll put things back together. And we'll rally as a community to support the families who have now been torn apart.
You won't even take 20 seconds to learn the names of the people that died. Why should you? You have no vested interest in this area. Or those people. You came in, trashed the place, and left. It was all one big party.
We'll clean up the town.
And we'll know the names of the people that died this weekend.
One was 18-year-old Lindsay Weakland from Pennsylvania. She had her entire life in front of her.
The other was 34-year-old Timothy Ogden of Clayton, Gloucester County.
We'll support those families and their friends, neighbors, and coworkers.
But at least you got to show off your car in front of countless mindless drones that only added peer pressure to countless volatile situations.
As far as I'm concerned, if you were egging-on the drivers this weekend, you have blood on your hands, too.
Two people died. But at least you got to see someone smoke their tires on Rio Grande Avenue. At least you got to post a cool video on TikTok. It was one big party, wasn't it?
Except two people died.
If you want to know just how much this collective is removed from reality, as I type this, one of the main Facebook groups about the H20i rally is currently debating whether or not to shut the group down or modify it into something else for car enthusiasts.
That's what you are debating tonight? Are you really that f'ing numb to the real world? Two people died and you don't know whether or not to keep a Facebook page going? That's your concern?
My company won't allow me to use the expletives here that I want to use to respond to that.
But do us all a favor -- keep it up so law enforcement can collect all of the information that they need. At least do one thing to make their jobs easier.
Speaking of law enforcement, could the area have been better prepared? I guess, but I'm not sure how. You would have needed nothing less than thousands of National Guard troops and state troopers handling the area like a war zone. Realistically, that isn't possible. And, quite honestly, if that's what we need for crowd control these days, we need to have some really frank discussions.
So it all fell primarily on the backs of the first responders in and around Cape May County. The men and women who patrol the streets every day, who fight fires at 2 AM, and who get ambulances to where they need to be. The men and women who don't get paid anywhere near what they should. The men and women who worked all weekend, who had vacations canceled, and time taken away from their families so you could smoke your tires on Rio Grande Avenue and so you could post one of a zillion videos of the same exact thing on TikTok.
Those men and women will clean up your mess.
To all of the first responders that had to put up with this garbage this weekend, thanking you for your service isn't a big enough gesture. I don't know what is. But those that care about this area thank you.
So what's next?
For a good number of people that were in and around Wildwood this weekend, they'll be spending a lot of time making sure their cars are shiny. That's how far removed from reality they are.
For others, funerals will be coming up. Locals will clean-up the physical mess. Months, if not years, of civil and criminal litigation will play out in courtrooms. That's the reality of the situation.
Elected officials will now be looking back at what happened.
And it's those elected officials that we will now carefully watch to see how they respond and react.
This is no longer about properly-worded press releases and 5-second sound clips on Action News that give the appearance of pretending to do something. It's time for Gov. Murphy to step-up and stop this from ever happening again. It's time for Attorney General Matt Platkin to step-up. It's time for our two senators to actually care about South Jersey (can anyone actually remember the last time either Cory Booker or Bob Menendez were in our area?).
It's time for Congressman Jeff Van Drew to step up.
It's time for the Cape May County Prosecutor's Office to come out swinging with a 40-pound sledgehammer.
It's time for the mayors of each town to scream at the top of their lungs that they will not put up with this crap ever again.
As one mayor said on Sunday, "Not here. Never again."