A son of Warwick mourned

Foundation established in memory of Warwick High School graduate Jamal Morris
By Roger Gavan
— On Saturday, April 30, Warwick’s Union African Methodist Episcopal Church was filed to capacity as hundreds of church members and many other community residents came to pay their respects.
They were there to show their love and support for Charlton Morris and Channabel Latham-Morris, the parents of Jamal Charlton Morris, 27, who was killed by a hit and run driver last month in Philadelphia.
The visitation was followed by a “Homegoing Celebration” service.
The family has now established the Jamal C. Morris Foundation through the Bike & Build organization, whose mission through service-oriented cycling trips, is to benefit affordable housing and empower young adults for a lifetime of service and civic engagement.
Morris, an avid cyclist who used his bicycle to commute, was riding his bright red Chainboard bicycle near 45th and Market Streets in Philadelphia early in the morning on April 16 when he was struck by a vehicle and suffered massive head trauma.
He was taken to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, where he died two days later.
Morris graduated from Warwick Valley High School in 2006 and Drexel University in 2011.
He was a mechanical engineer with AMEC Foster Wheeler in Philadelphia and a part-time staff member at Penn Athletics at the University of Pennsylvania.
According to police, there was no evidence on the road to determine what type of vehicle had struck Morris. Police are looking for anyone with information on the hit-and-run crash to come forward.
Family members have also pleaded for the driver to surrender to police.
“As a mom,” said Channabel Latham-Morris, a sister in the UAME Church, “I am pleading with the person who hit my son. I forgive you. So you need to know that I forgive you. Please come forward.”
The family requests that any donations be made in Jamal Morris’ name to the Jamal C. Morris Foundation.

Memorial service set for cyclist killed in W. Philly hit-run

A memorial service for a bicyclist who died after he was struck by a hit-and-run vehicle in West Philadelphia a week ago will be next Saturday in his hometown of Warwick, N.Y., his family said.

Jamal Morris, 27, an avid cyclist and a Drexel University graduate, was riding his bright red Chainboard bicycle near 45th and Market Streets about 3:45 a.m. April 16 when he was struck by a vehicle.

Morris, who suffered massive head trauma, was taken to Penn Presbyterian Medical Center, where he died two days later.

Next Saturday, Morris’ family will say goodbye to him at Union AME Church in Warwick.

Family pleads for driver’s surrender in hit-run bike death

Family members of a bicyclist who died after being struck by a vehicle in a hit-and-run crash in West Philadelphia over the weekend pleaded Tuesday for the driver to surrender to police.

Jamal Morris, 27, who is from New York and stayed in Philadelphia after graduating from Drexel University, was pronounced dead at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center at 10:10 a.m. Monday. He was hit about 3:45 a.m. Saturday while riding near 45th and Market Streets and sustained massive head trauma.

His family came from its home in Warwick, N.Y., on Saturday after learning of the accident.

At a news conference outside Penn Presbyterian, Channabel Latham-Morris said her only son “loved life. He loved church. He loved sports.”

“As a mom, I am pleading with the person who hit my son,” she said. “I forgive you. So you need to know that I forgive you. Please come forward.”

Morris, who graduated from Drexel in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, had been working in Philadelphia as a piping designer for Amec Foster Wheeler, an international engineering and project-management firm.

Morris’ father, Hector Charlton Morris, said his son “was a very simple man” who had fallen in love with Philadelphia during college.

“My son came to Philadelphia and I don’t know what you guys did to him, but he never wanted to leave,” he said.

Police Capt. John Wilczynski of the Accident Investigation District said Morris was riding a “bright red bike” when he was struck.

Police have no surveillance video, no physical evidence of the vehicle, and “no reliable eyewitnesses, so right now I have to appeal to the conscience of the person that hit him,” the captain said.

Police and family members said they did not know where Morris, who lived in West Philadelphia, was riding to or from that night.

Morris’ friends said he was an avid cyclist.

“That was his commute. Whether it was work, whether it was to our house on the weekend,” said Bill Mahon, 27, who was Morris’ freshman roommate at Drexel. “He always biked down. . . . It took an hour, 10 minutes, it was monsooning, him and his bike were hand-in-hand.”

Police asked anyone with information on the incident to contact the Accident Investigation District at 215-685-3180 or 911.

Warwick man killed in Philly hit-and-run accident

WARWICK – A young man who was raised in Warwick was killed after a hit-and-run accident in Philadelphia.

Police say Jamal Morris was riding his bike home earlier this month when he was hit by a car.

The Warwick High School graduate died two days later of severe brain injuries.

A funeral for the 27-year-old is this Saturday at the Union AME Church in Warwick.

A Vision Zero Call to Action After Cyclist Killed in West Philly

A message appeared in the Bicycle Coalition’s inbox this morning concerning Jamal C. Morris, the cyclist who was struck by a hit-and-run driver early Saturday morning. The message was from one of Morris’ friends, who told us that after several days in the hospital, Morris had passed away.

The piping designer and Drexel graduate was found early Saturday morning at 45th and Market Streets after being struck by a motor vehicle while riding his bicycle. According to police, there was no evidence on the road to determine what type of vehicle had struck Jamal. Police are looking for anyone with information on the hit-and-run crash to come forward.

On Tuesday, Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia Executive Director Sarah Clark Stuart and Communications Manager Randy LoBasso met Morris’ family and friends at Penn Presbyterian Hospital.

“He really was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. He never said anything bad about anyone and was always there to make you smile or put a positive spin on something that was going wrong. Whenever anyone would ask him ‘How’s it going?’ he would reply ‘Only getting better,’” said one of his friends. “He never knew how to be negative and I admired that about him. The other thing that I, along with anyone else who knew him, would admire him for was his love for his bike. He would ride it everywhere. Day or night; rain or shine.”

It’s time the city and state take action to make sure hit-and-run crashes like the one that killed Jamal end.  That’s why Philadelphia needs a Vision Zero Task Force, a Vision Zero Goal and a Vision Zero Action Plan.

Bicyclist fatalities were way up through 2015, with hit-and-run fatalities making up a large portion of those. According to statistics obtained from the Philadelphia Police Department, there were six hit-and-run fatalities in 2014. In 2015, there were at least six pedestrians, two bicyclists and three others hit by hit-and-run drivers.

Hundreds of people are killed or injured in traffic crashes each year. The city’s cyclists and pedestrians have been left vulnerable long enough. This is not OK.  A Vision Zero policy is needed to make tackling this issue a priority.

It’s time the state of Pennsylvania extend its red light camera program and legalize speed cameras so drivers are incentivized to slow down and, when crashes do occur, police are more easily able to identify the motor vehicle involved.

Police say they currently do not have footage of the crash.

The Bicycle Coalition is currently advocating for three pieces of state Legislation related to better camera enforcement as part of a Vision Zero action plan.

HB 950 – Extend the Red Light Enforcement Program to the Year 2027
SB1034 – Create a Pilot Program for Photo Cameras on Roosevelt Boulevard
SB 535 – Allow local police to use radar for speed enforcement

If you’re interested in helping make Philadelphia’s streets safer through safety and red light cameras, we urge you to call your Senator and tell her or him to pass HB 950, SB 1034 and SB 535 now.

Long term, we’d like to see this street, and others like it, reworked with protected bike lanes. In the meantime, this state legislation is something that can make a difference now.

It’s important the city and state work on these issues to avoid these kinds of horrific crashes in the future.

Drexel Grad Jamal Morris Killed By Hit-and-Run Driver On Market Street

The Philadelphia Police Department is asking for the public’s help to identify the driver who struck and killed a bicyclist in West Philadelphia on Saturday.

Police found 27-year-old Jamal Morris in the roadway at 45th and Market streets around 3:45 a.m. on Saturday. At first, investigators thought that Morris had been the victim of an assault. But doctors at Penn-Presbyterian Medical Center determined that he had been struck by a vehicle. Morris was pronounced dead just after 10 a.m. on Saturday morning.

Officers from the Accident Investigation Division recovered Morris’ bike and found damage indicating that it had been struck by a car, but police say that they haven’t been able to recover any physical evidence that would give them any clues about the car that hit him. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 215-685-3180 or 911.

According to his LinkedIn page, Morris was a 2011 graduate of Drexel University and was employed by British engineering firm Amec Foster Wheeler. Morris moved to Philadelphia from Warwick Valley, New York.

Morris’ friends have been posting memories of the young man on Facebook.

“Sad to lose Jamal C. Morris on this day, but happy to remember him and to have shared time with him and the rest of the Drexel crew,” wrote former classmate Ian Swindlehurst. “All who know him know there is just not enough to be said.”