Additional charges likely in connection to car rally in Wildwood that turned deadly (2023)

WILDWOOD — More charges are likely in connection to an unsanctioned car rally in Wildwood over the weekend, which has been connected to a deadly crash and other serious accidents.

The car rally, known as H2oi or H2022, also disrupted life in the surrounding communities and was connected to other accidents, including a serious crash on Rio Grande Avenue on Saturday.

On Monday, Cape May County Prosecutor Jeffrey Sutherland said he is weighing filing charges against the event organizers, and other local officials are calling for state or even national action to make sure nothing similar happens again.

It may be difficult to pin down the event organizers, however, since most of the organization took place through social media. As multiple officials have pointed out, the rally took place without permits, planning or any local approvals.

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It was not just reckless driving. Multiple videos show throngs of participants crowding the streets, in one disregarding the emergency lights and sirens of a police car and the order of an officer to clear the way.

Police say officers had bottles and bricks thrown at them during the weekend, or were met with violence. That didn’t happen in Middle Township, said Police Chief Christopher Leusner, but there were times when his officers were significantly outnumbered.

“They would do a traffic stop and the car would be surrounded,” Leusner said Monday. On Friday night, police struggled to control a huge gathering in the parking lot of Lowes in the Rio Grande section of the township. Leusner said extra officers were on duty and there was additional staff on hand.

(Video) Fourth arrest made in Wildwood illegal car event that turned deadly

“It still wasn’t enough,” he said. Police from surrounding jurisdictions helped rein in the crowd, which Leusner estimated to included between 750 and 1,000 people. Eventually, they were able to disperse the crowd, he said, but at one point Friday night, the parking lot was beyond control.

On Saturday, it was a running game of motorized cat-and-mouse, with participants using Snapchat to signal gatherings in different parking lots throughout the township. At times, officers turned to public works equipment to block entrances.

“We were literally chasing them around all day,” Leusner said. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my career.”

While Wildwood was the epicenter of the event, its impact spread to neighboring communities, with people in Upper Township and Cape May complaining about the noise and reckless driving. There was also an emotional impact, Wildwood Crest Mayor Don Cabrera said Monday. He said he is praying for the families of those who died in a Saturday collision, and for those injured in a separate accident Saturday.

“When something like that hits, it affects our whole island and it affects our whole county,” Cabrera said.

Two people were killed in a collision Saturday night, a pedestrian and the passenger in a vehicle, when a driver struck another car and then hit two pedestrians at Burk and Atlantic avenues. A Pittsburgh man, Gerald J. White, 37, faces multiple charges, including two counts of death by auto and a charge of leaving the scene of an accident.

Sutherland has sought to keep White in county jail, which requires approval of a judge under New Jersey’s bail reform.

There was also a serious accident on Rio Grande Avenue the same night, and Leusner said officers responded to a crash on the Garden State Parkway, with multiple other accidents occurring as drivers deliberately sought to burn rubber or race each other down municipal streets.

Sen. Michael Testa on Monday called for state action to address pop-up events, citing the rally in Wildwood. He accused Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration of inaction.

(Video) Man charged in connection to unsanctioned car event in Wildwood that left 2 dead, others injured

“There aren’t many small towns that can maintain public safety and effectively protect their communities when thousands of rowdy people suddenly show up with little or no warning,” Testa said.

Some commenters on social media questioned the police response to the rally. Local officials say police were already working at capacity with multiple popular events planned for the Wildwoods that weekend, including the Fall Car Show, the annual Irish Festival in North Wildwood and Seafarers Weekend in Wildwood Crest.

“It was busy in North Wildwood,” Mayor Pat Rosenello said Monday. “I think they were all over the county.”

After seeing what happened in Rio Grande on Friday, Rosenello said, North Wildwood Police did not allow any gatherings if they could help it.

“Our police did a very good job,” he said. Police stopped a planned meet-up in the parking lot of the Acme in North Wildwood after learning about it on social media and confirming that the owners of the store did not want it to take place.

Chief Dekon Fashaw, the police chief in Cape May, said police reacted swiftly as issues arose, and that Middle Township and Wildwood police kept the other agencies in the county informed as the weekend approached.

“These events evolved quickly and out of the control of the police departments,” Fashaw said Sunday. “Let it be known, that the events that transpired were at the fault of the planners and participants of the H2oi event.”

Fashaw described officers being attacked and pelted with bottles and bricks, along with verbal abuse and physical attacks.

He said the organizers should be held accountable, and described the police response and other emergency crews as heroism at its finest.

“The officers and staff responded accordingly and in a professional manner, in light of all of the chaos and insurrection that was caused or given to them by the participants of the event,” Fashaw said. “What had happened during the event was in no way the fault of anyone in the police departments or staff that was involved.”

He also asked those with video not to post what he described as scene of carnage.

(Video) Lawmakers want task force to deal with pop-up parties

Cabrera also had harsh words for the participants and organizers.

“To me, this is quasi-domestic terrorism,” Cabrera said. “There was no regard for law enforcement. There was no regard for law and order.”

Officials in the area say they have been deluged with requests for comment, and most spent a significant part of Monday just getting a handle on what happened and how it could be prevented from happening again. Wildwood Mayor Pete Byron was not immediately available for comment Monday.

Byron told Fox 29 in Philadelphia that he was in contact with the governor’s office about the response after far more people than anticipated arrived. He said he requested the National Guard.

“This was a nightmare,” Byron said.

He seemed certain that the city and the region could keep the rally out in the future.

“They won’t be back next year,” Byron said.

In Wildwood Crest, police made 102 motor vehicle stops over the weekend and issued 61 summonses, far more than a typical September weekend. In North Wildwood, police wrote 120 tickets, Rosenello said.

Middle Township Police issued 40 summonses and stopped 80 cars, Leusner said, but gathered information for additional charges. He said far more summonses and criminal charges are likely from the chaotic weekend, with detectives photographing reckless behavior and reviewing copious social media posts.

“We are going to charge as many people as possible with traffic violations and any criminal violations for which we have probable cause to do so,” Leusner said.

There was significant damage to property, Leusner said. He said the township made one arrest on charges of driving while intoxicated and two on charges of eluding police.

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(Video) 'They took over the town': Wildwood mayor reacts to deadly H20i car rally

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FAQs

What is H2022 in Wildwood NJ? ›

NEW! Officials on Friday said police would boost patrols in Wildwood amid reports of an “unsanctioned” pop-up car rally in the Jersey Shore city. Known as H2oi or H2022, the gathering was previously held in Ocean City, Maryland, where authorities faced speeding cars, crashes and large crowds.

What happened in Wildwood New Jersey? ›

Two people were killed and two others injured during Saturday's rally, which drew 500 vehicles to Wildwood and sparked confusion in the iconic Jersey Shore community and surrounding towns.

What happened at the Wildwood car show last night? ›

WILDWOOD, N.J. — A pop-up car rally over the weekend in southern New Jersey led to multiple crashes and the deaths of at least two people, officials say. Wildwood Mayor Pete Byron told NJ Advance Media on Sunday that there were a series of car crashes related to the "unsanctioned" car meet-up event, NJ.com reported.

What is the H2oi? ›

Called an “unsanctioned” pop-up car rally by local officials, H2oi is a gathering previously hosted in Ocean City, Maryland — often drawing the ire of locals and business owners who encounter outdoor drinking, drag races and large crowds.

Is the Wildwood car show Cancelled? ›

Wildwood 365: Spring 2022 Downtown Classic Car Show CANCELED.

What is CPT code H2022? ›

Home Behavioral Healthcare Services
Information in the [brackets] below has been added for clarification purposes. Codes requiring a 7th character are represented by "+":
CodeCode Description
H2022Community-based wrap-around services, per diem
H2030Mental health clubhouse services, per 15 minutes
35 more rows

What happened in Wildwood with cars? ›

The vehicles descended on Wildwood quickly, part of an impromptu car show known as H2oi, H20i, or H2022, and once the mayhem reached a fever pitch, the cars fled just as fast. But the damage was done. Two were killed in a multi-car crash.

What street does the Wildwood boardwalk start on? ›

The Boardwalk starts in the west at Rambler Road Park and heads east towards the piers, where it turns from concrete to a true boardwalk. Towards Gateway 26, it turns back to concrete and continues east to meet up with John F. Kennedy Beach Drive, ending just before the seawall.

Does Wildwood have a boardwalk? ›

The Wildwoods' award-winning Boardwalk features 38 blocks packed end to end with shops, waterparks, eateries, entertainment and amusement piers with over 100 rides and attractions.

What happened H2O car meet? ›

The latest unsanctioned event in New Jersey turned deadly. Two people were killed in a crash Saturday evening during an unsanctioned car meet in Wildwood, New Jersey. Once notorious as "the most ticketed car show" in the United States, H2Oi—short for H2O International—has been known for reckless driving for years.

How long has h20i been around? ›

The H2oi or H2022 show began in the late 1990s, according to posts by organizers online, who have billed it “The Original 'Laid Back' 2 Day Watercooled VW/Audi Event.”

When was Wildwood NJ established? ›

Wildwood was originally incorporated as a borough by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on May 1, 1895, from portions of Middle Township, based on the results of a referendum held the previous day. On January 1, 1912, Wildwood was incorporated as a city, replacing both Wildwood borough and Holly Beach City.

How much money does Ocean City make a year? ›

Ocean City, Maryland peak revenue was $3.5M in 2021.

What is H2O weekend in Ocean City Maryland? ›

Welcome to H2O, the only Under 21 Teen Night Club in Ocean City, Maryland. We are located just off the Boardwalk on Worcester St.

Will there be a race of gentlemen in 2022? ›

From September 29 – October 2, 2022 over 100 vintage auto (pre-1934) and motorcycles (pre-1947) including Indian, Harley Davidson, Excelcior, Ford, Dodge Brothers and more will compete in an exhibition style beach race at the water's edge on the Wildwood beach at Baker Avenue.

Where is the Wildwood car show? ›

The Fall Boardwalk Classic Car Show takes place every September on the famous Wildwood Boardwalk.

What street is the Wildwood car show on? ›

9/22/2022: 12:00pm – 9:00pm – Downtown Wildwood Pacific Avenue Classic Car Show Participants can check-in at registration at the Imperial 500 Motel in Wildwood Crest.

What is code H0048? ›

HCPCS code H0048 for Alcohol and/or other drug testing: collection and handling only, specimens other than blood as maintained by CMS falls under Miscellaneous Drug and Alcohol Services .

What is CPT H2011? ›

providers may bill procedure code H2011 (Crisis Intervention, per 15 minutes) when providing behavioral health crisis stabilization services.

What is CPT code H0037? ›

2022 HCPCS Code H0037 : Community psychiatric supportive treatment program, per diem.

What is Wildwood FL known for? ›

If getting back to nature is more your thing, Wildwood is home to two wildlife management areas, where visitors can fish, hunt, camp, hike, bike, enjoy some of the finest birding in the area, or just chill in a relaxed, rural, nature setting. Wildwood, Sumter County, FL… the real Florida.

Is North Wildwood nicer than Wildwood? ›

Wildwood City and North Wildwood are known for their shared wooden boardwalk and abundant nightlife. North Wildwood is more of a modest residential beach town at its northern tip. The City is more populated and lively. To the south lies Wildwood Crest, a quiet seaside town with no boardwalk.

Who owns the Wildwood boardwalk? ›

The park has been family owned and operated since 1969 and is currently run by 2nd generation Morey Brothers, Will and Jack. Morey's Piers has more than 100 rides and attractions across its three amusement piers and two beachfront waterparks. 3501 Boardwalk, Wildwood & North Wildwood, New Jersey, U.S.

What state has the longest boardwalk? ›

Longest & Oldest Boardwalk: Atlantic City Boardwalk in New Jersey. At more than 5 miles in length, New Jersey's Atlantic City boardwalk is the longest in the country.

Is Wildwood Open 2022? ›

May 5, 2022 ~ WILDWOOD, NJ – Wildwood Mayor Pete Byron announced today that the Boardwalk Rehabilitation Project stretching three blocks from Oak to Maple Avenues is set to be open and be fully accessible by 3:30 pm this Friday.

How much is the tram car in Wildwood? ›

A one-way ride takes about 30 minutes and costs $4.00 per person. Discount tickets are available at the Tram Office and at various locations along the boardwalk. “Watch the tram car, please!”

Is Wildwood NJ a dry town? ›

The borough's name comes from Wildwood, which in turn was named for the area's wild flowers. It is a dry town, where alcohol cannot be sold, affirmed by the results of a referendum held in 1940. Wildwood Crest joins Cape May Point and Ocean City among municipalities in Cape May restricting the sale of alcohol.

What is H2Oi event? ›

H2oi, described by local officials as an “unauthorized” pop-up car rally, is a gathering previously held in Ocean City, Maryland — and often drawing the ire of locals and business owners who look at the Drinking outdoors, drag races and bumping into large crowds.

Who created H2Oi? ›

The show revolves around three teenage girls facing everyday teen problems with an added twist: they are mermaids with powers over water.
...
H2O: Just Add Water
Also known asH2O
GenreChildren / teen drama Fantasy
Created byJonathan M. Shiff
Directed byColin Budds Jeffrey Walker
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Where does h20 car meet take place? ›

The unofficial H2Oi 2021 is held every year in Ocean City, Maryland. It's a combination of car meets organized online via social media, cruising the strip, walking down the Coastal Highway, and enjoying spontaneous mini-meets that happen organically.

Why is Wildwood called Wildwoods? ›

“Wildwood” got its name for a good reason: before the Baker brothers purchased and began developing the island in the early 1890s, the island was a wild and overgrown island, inaccessible to all but a few Native Americans and bold colonial pioneers. It was more of a forest than a beach.

What was the original name of Wildwood? ›

Fishermen and their families began building small houses on the north end of the island in the mid- to late 1800s. They became the island's first permanent residents. The residents named the small community they built “Anglesea”. This would later become North Wildwood.

What is a dry town in NJ? ›

A “dry town” prohibits the sale of alcohol within its borders. This means there are no liquor stores, package stores, or bars in these towns, but you can still consume alcohol – and you can still get arrested for DWI or other alcohol-related crimes in these towns.

How much does an Ocean City lifeguard make? ›

Ocean City Beach Patrol Salaries
Job TitleSalary
Lifeguard salaries - 6 salaries reported$15/hr
SRT salaries - 3 salaries reported$73/hr
Ocean Lifeguard salaries - 2 salaries reported$19/hr
Undergraduate Student salaries - 1 salaries reported$17/hr
7 more rows
5 Jun 2022

What is Ocean City known for? ›

Ocean City is most famous for its boardwalk, salt-water taffy, and its status as the White Marlin Capital of the World.

Are the beaches free in Ocean City MD? ›

There's so much to do in Ocean City, Maryland that's free of charge. Our 10 miles of beautifully kept beach are free and open to the public from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. – no beach tags necessary! And during the summer, OC is jam-packed with free family activities like movies on the beach, concerts, even a dance party!

How much does it cost to get into H2O in Ocean City? ›

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO ENTER H2O? Regular admission is $20 per person.

How old do you have to be to get in H20 Ocean City? ›

Welcome - Welcome to H2O, the only Under 21 Teen Night Club in Ocean City, MD with theme parties, private events for booking, and fun nights by the Boardwalk! The Music - Check out our awesome DJ lineup at H2O Under 21 Night Club.

What street is H2O on in Ocean City? ›

H20 - 12 Reviews - 9 Worcester St, Ocean City, MD - Yelp.

What is H2oi Wildwood NJ? ›

The H2oi rally was originally intended to celebrate water-cooled Volkswagens and Audis, but has turned into an unruly takeover of city streets in recent years. Officials in Ocean City, Maryland, previously banned the event.

When was Wildwood NJ established? ›

Wildwood was originally incorporated as a borough by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on May 1, 1895, from portions of Middle Township, based on the results of a referendum held the previous day. On January 1, 1912, Wildwood was incorporated as a city, replacing both Wildwood borough and Holly Beach City.

What happened H2O car meet? ›

The latest unsanctioned event in New Jersey turned deadly. Two people were killed in a crash Saturday evening during an unsanctioned car meet in Wildwood, New Jersey. Once notorious as "the most ticketed car show" in the United States, H2Oi—short for H2O International—has been known for reckless driving for years.

How long has h20i been around? ›

The H2oi or H2022 show began in the late 1990s, according to posts by organizers online, who have billed it “The Original 'Laid Back' 2 Day Watercooled VW/Audi Event.”

Why is Wildwood called Wildwoods? ›

“Wildwood” got its name for a good reason: before the Baker brothers purchased and began developing the island in the early 1890s, the island was a wild and overgrown island, inaccessible to all but a few Native Americans and bold colonial pioneers. It was more of a forest than a beach.

What was the original name of Wildwood? ›

Fishermen and their families began building small houses on the north end of the island in the mid- to late 1800s. They became the island's first permanent residents. The residents named the small community they built “Anglesea”. This would later become North Wildwood.

Why is Wildwood so popular? ›

Famous for its free, wide, white, sandy beaches and world class boardwalk, "Wildwood by the Sea" has been the number one fun-filled family vacation destination for many generations. The award winning Wildwood beaches are the widest on the Jersey Cape.

Videos

1. 2 dead after drag race in Wildwood, N.J.
(CBS New York)
2. 2 people killed during car rally, crash in Wildwood, New Jersey
(CBS New York)
3. Wildwood mayor on unsanctioned car event that turned deadly: "We were just outmanned"
(CBS Philadelphia)
4. Two people killed during unsanctioned H20i car meetup in Wildwood, N.J.
(NJ.com)
5. Driver Charged in Wildwood Crash That Killed 2, Injured More
(NBC10 Philadelphia)
6. Mayor speaks out after H2Oi car rally in Wildwood
(FOX 29 Philadelphia)
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