Grieving mom wins fight to prevent future tragedy

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A grieving mother's unstoppable determination sparked a fight for safety in Bucks County. (WPVI)

A grieving mother's unstoppable determination sparked a fight for safety in Bucks County.

Four years after tragedy struck, that woman is celebrating a big triumph.

Back in 2012, Sharon Rearick's son, John, was hit and killed along New Falls Road in Bristol Township.

Now, an addition to the road has been approved in hopes that what happened to John won't happen again.

"We got the approval and I got a standing ovation and it was amazing," Sharon said.

She spoke with Action News in her Levittown home, with her granddaughter on her lap, less than a day after the vote she had been waiting for.

"I started it as that grieving mother. But everybody else helped make it happen," she said.

With a unanimous vote from Bristol Township Council, plans will move forward to install sidewalks along that mile-and-a-half stretch of New Falls Road.

Police say 23-year-old John Rearick was walking home from a bar in July 2012 when he was struck. Jonathan Simmons later turned himself in and pleaded guilty.

But Sharon wasn't satisfied.

"In the beginning they told me many other families have tried to do this and were unsuccessful. John was special ed. I learned how to fight in the very beginning," she said.

For years, she collected thousands of signatures and went to countless meetings.
In December she made another attempt out of desperation.

"I wrote a letter to the secretary of transportation, Leslie Richards on Facebook. Never ever expected her to respond," said Sharon.

But Richards did respond. Then in January, news that PennDOT would pay $1.7 million for the sidewalks, as long as Middletown and Bristol Townships agreed to maintain them. Those votes came this week.

The stretch of road includes Penn Jersey Auto Shop, where customers came to sign the petitions. The same business also captured the crash on surveillance footage.

"I think it'll make a huge difference now that people can actually walk down New Falls Rd. without walking in the middle of the street," said Richard Castagna of Penn Jersey Auto Shop.

Sharon has since started a non-profit organization that advocates for more sidewalks and pedestrian safety.

PennDOT says the project is now in the design phase. If all goes smoothly, construction will be underway by next year.
Related Topics:
newspennsylvania newspedestrian struckBristol Township
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