Homicide by Vehicle Charges in Cyclist Emily Fredricks' Bike Lane Death in Center City

At 11th and Spruce streets in Center City, the memory of Emily Fredricks lives on more than one year after her death. A white bike marks the spot where she was killed. 

The 24-year-old bakery chef died in November 2017 after a sanitation truck driver hit her while making a right turn. Fredricks was riding her bike to work and wearing a helmet at the time of impact.

The driver of the truck was listening to earbuds, which is illegal, and looking at a paperwork on his center console, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office said. 

On Tuesday, the 28-year-old driver of that truck turned himself into Philadelphia police. Jorge Fretts was charged with homicide by vehicle, involuntary manslaughter and recklessly endangering another person, according to court records.

He was ordered held on $100,000 bail.

"He should have been looking at his side-view mirrors," Anthony Voci, chief of the district attorney's homicide unit, said. "This was not an accident. This was an unlawful act ... due to inattention."

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said that while not all traffic-related deaths are caused by criminal behavior, his office intends to pursue cases where the evidence points to something more than a mere accident.

"I would like to think that this administration is going to be cognizant that cyclists have every right to be on the streets and they have every right to ride inside lanes," he said. 

Fretts, Krasner said, eliminated his capacity to drive a commercial vehicle by ignoring his training and driving while distracted. 

Fredricks' death galvanized the cycling community in Philadelphia, which formed a human bike lane and held vigils in her honor. She was the third cyclist killed in 2017.

"There really are no winners here," Randy LoBasso from the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia said.

Fredricks' parents shared a similar sentiment.

“Our amazing Emily was a gift to us and all those she met during her life that was cut so tragically short. While we commend the work of law enforcement, and put our faith in the justice system, we mourn her loss every moment of every day, and pray for the safety of others who walk and bike on our streets," Richard and Laura Fredricks said in an emailed statement.

On Thursday, cyclists will create yet another human bike lane to remember Fredricks. They have taken similar actions after other cyclists were struck by cars in Philadelphia.

Last year, Fredrick's’ family settled with the privately-owned trash truck company, Gold Medal Environmental, for more than $6 million. The company also agreed to make a $125,000 contribution to local organizations that work to make roads safer for cyclists. The money will be given out in $25,000 amounts over the next five years.

The company, where Fretts remained employed until he turned himself into police, said it is committed to safety and proactive training standards. 

In the same year Fredricks died, the city launched a prevention program. Vision Zero aims to eliminate traffic-related traffic-related deaths by 2030. This includes gathering safety data, creating protected bike lanes and working more closely with the cycling community to improve road conditions.

A call to Fretts' lawyer was not immediately returned.

Contact Us