Lititz Borough Council reflects on Oct. 26 accident

By on October 31, 2018

It was a somber gathering for Lititz Borough Council on Tuesday, Oct. 30.

Four days after car accident with fatalities on Oct. 26 in front of Warwick High School, council members were visibly shaken by the tragedy. The multi-vehicle accident was caused when 63-year-old Debra Slaymaker-Walker was driving erratically and struck several vehicles just as students were leaving school.

One student, Jack Nicholson, died later that day in surgery. Another student, Meghan Keeney, died on Sunday from her injuries. A third student, Rylan Beebe, is hospitalized. The driver who caused the accident is also hospitalized.

“It’s just heartbreaking,” said council member Christine Sensenich. “I have no words.” Council member John Bear shared her grief for the teens, saying, “I can’t remember anything so tragic happening here in the Lititz community. Every parent wants to hug their children.”

Council president Shane Weaver also called it a terrible tragedy and noted that he was heartened to see how the community has pulled together. Many shops in downtown Lititz are decorated with Warwick’s red and black colors, and the Halloween Parade on Monday evening was a tribute to the teens.

“This is a very difficult time,” said Mayor Timothy Snyder, who welcomed Rev. Jim Haun from St. Luke’s United Church of Christ for the invocation. Haun told council that these times can be awful and the world can be dangerous place with great evils. He thanked the borough council members for the work they do to try to make Lititz a safe and prosperous place.

As Lititz celebrates Halloween with a parade sponsored by the Lititz Lions Club, a float with field hockey and lacrosse students from Warwick High School, hold a moment of silence for Jack R. Nicholson and Meghan Keeney, two students who passed away as a result of Friday’s tragic accident on Monday, October 29, 2018.

“So much in life is beyond our comprehension and control,” said Haun. “For now, all we can do is to remember Jack and Meghan, and pray for their families and for Rylan, who is still recovering.”

Mayor Snyder thanked Lititz Borough Police Chief Kerry Nye, his department, and all the first responders from area fire companies and ambulances who responded with great professionalism in rescuing and treating the crash victims. Nye later reported that the Halloween Parade on Monday went without incident. In the future, he hopes to have children stay back from the roadway when candy is being tossed.

He also reported that the AMBUCS Craft Beer Fest in Lititz in September was also trouble-free. The benefit beer fest was larger this year, and Nye said it went well, without any issues with driving under the influence. He does not want to see the festival become any larger, however. Nye noted that Lititz is very tough on drunk drivers. His officers have been cracking down on DUI arrests, making it their mission to stop and arrest DUI drivers.

“Don’t drive through Lititz if you are drunk,” said Nye. “You’ll get no sympathy from me.”

Borough Council approved requests for activity and special event permits for the Venture Lititz Extraordinary Give on Nov. 16 from 3 to 7 p.m.; and Hometown Christmas, Santa in the park, and scavenger hunt on Dec. 8. Santa will be at the train station during the event that runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Council also approved next year’s Lititz Fire & Ice festival, which will be held on the weekend of Feb. 15-17, 2019.

In other matters, Elijah Yearick, community planning director, reported that the invasive spotted lanternflies have been sighted in Lititz. The native insect species from Asia has been invading regions of Pennsylvania, destroying crops and hardwood. Anyone who sees the spotted insects should kill them, said Yearick. Their eggs look like mud and they can be found on trees and a variety of materials. The eggs should be scraped off and placed in plastic bags to kill them.

Peter Smith of Inframark wastewater services agreed that Lititz Borough should let residents know that it damages the the sewer system when disposable wipes are flushed into toilets. The wipes contain plastics and are not biodegradable like toilet paper. The borough plans to notify residents in upcoming sewer and water bills.

Laura Knowles covers the Lititz Borough Council beat for the Record Express. She welcomes feedback and story tips at lknowles21@gmail.com. 

One Comment

  1. Rebekah Christner

    October 31, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    Perhaps instead of candy being tossed from floats and trucks, all candy could be distributed by “walkers” going along close to the sidewalks where the kids are sitting. That might help keep the kids safer.

    It was nice that one business passed out bright orange bags at the beginning for the kids to put their candy in.

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