Sharon Rearick’s life changed forever on July 22.
On New Falls Road in Middletown, her son was run over by a hit-and run driver, John Rearick, 23. Several days later, he died from his injuries at St. Mary Medical Center, and for Sharon Rearick, the loss galvanized her to action.
New Falls Road, she says, is dangerous and something needs to be done about it. On August 29, Rearick created a petition one on Change.Org. In it she calls for sidewalks to be constructed on the highway for the safety of the public
Named the “Sidewalks for New Falls Road, Honoring John Rearick by Making a Difference,” the petition spells out the danger for the public when traveling by foot on the road as Rearick says in the online document. With approximately 1,300 signatures to date, and circulated through Patch and Facebook, locals are signing in support of the petition rapidly.
Have you had a close call on New Falls Road. Leave a comment?
One supporter, Renee E. Mundy, of Levittown, said, “There is a huge need for sidewalks on the super busy road. How many more deaths are needed to make this change?” Another endorser, Josh Bagley of Bensalem posted he’s walked on the road and knows from firsthand experience how dangerous it is.
The petition has created a local buzz and is catching the attention of state and local officials. State Sen. Tommy Tomlinson and State Rep. Tina Davis, both support the call for action and are working in tandem with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to figure out a way for a walkway to be built to protect pedestrians.
In letters obtained by Patch Bristol Township Manager Bill McCauley contacted PennDOT requesting the agency complete a traffic study of New Falls Road, citing the road as “…one of most dangerous highways for pedestrian travel in Bucks County….”
PennDOT's reponse to McCauley in early September stating they are in support of a study, however, state funds to build sidewalks isn’t typical for the state agency. Further deliberation is required by the four municipalities involved in order for any movement on the issue to be realized, the transportation office says.
Rearick realizes, it will be a process but since response to the petition has been so “phenomenal and overwhelming,” there is no turning back now, she says.
“I really believe we can get this done.”
As she looked out over to where a memorial for her son stands tears flowed down her cheeks.
“If there’s some good that can come of my loss, then so be it. I want to see this happen not only for me, but also for the next person walking on that road. I don’t want my son’s death to be in vain and that’s why this petition is so important to me.”
As for hit –and-run driver on August 9, Jonathan Simmons, 27 of Bristol Township turned himself in to police admitting he was the driver of the car that struck and killed Rearick’s son John.
Simmons is now charged with accident involving death or injury, which is a felony, as well as other related offenses. He faces a maximum of seven years in prison and is now free on $500,000 unsecured bond.
To view the petition and the Facebook page created in honor of John Rearick please see the links below.