MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Police Acting Chief Jeffrey Norman says the deaths of two young men over the weekend shows more needs to be done to stop reckless driving. He is calling the deaths of the two young men "senseless."
"This incident happened in the afternoon on the weekend," Chief Norman said. "So you know there’s a higher probability of vehicles in the road, people are trying to enjoy the weather, going places, to and from. We need to understand that is a dangerous, dangerous behavior in that type of environment."
On Saturday, investigators say two cars were racing near 60th and Hampton when one slammed in to the car carrying Jerrold Wellinger and Devante Gaines. Both were 22 years old and had known each other since childhood. Their families are devastated.
"He just told me, Grandma, I want to start going to church with you," Sandra Gaines said. "I was a having a ceremony, it was a little ceremony on Sunday. He was going to come with me. None of this happened because of all this reckless driving out here."
"I'm mad, I'm mad, I'm so angry, I'm angry because it's not fair," said Jerrold's mother, Julie Wellinger. "Not fair, they get to live, and my son is gone."
MPD arrested the drivers of the two cars it says were racing, and they are referring charges.
Back in March, Chief Norman launched the Traffic Safety Unit. A team of officers partner with community groups to promote safe driving. Data from the TSU shows there have been close to 11,000 crashes in 2021—which include 35 deaths. In District 7 alone, where Jerrold and Devante were killed, data shows there have been eight fatal crashes so far in 2021—more than any other district.
Chief Norman says the response he's gotten from the community about the TSU shows their work is having an impact. He says they need more preventative measures, such as driving school and social media messaging, to get the word out even more now.
"When we have individuals out there racing, there might be someone else in the vehicle who’s encouraging or not saying anything at all," Chief Norman said. "So we have to have that collective responsibility."
Jerrold's family now believes it's on them to try to make sure no other families feel their same pain.
"Jerrold is telling me, please mom, we have to make a change," Julie said. " Nobody else needs to die because of this."
You can help report your traffic safety concerns to investigators at MPDTSU.org.