Despite her heartache, Channabel Latham-Morris decided she needed to return to the place where her son, Jamal Morris, perished. Morris was just 27 years old when he was involved in a hit and run accident that robbed the bright, 27-year-old mechanical engineer of his life. The late night accident took place near 45th and Market Streets in California.
The reason his mother has decided to make the trip from Warwick, New York to California is to light a memorial candle during the Bicycle Coalition of Greater California’s annual Ride of Silence. This yearly event takes place to honor people like Jamal Morris who were killed while cycling through the city. Participants also hope that the annual ride reminds local motorist that they share the road with cyclist and need to be aware of them when navigating California’s road system. Since last year’s ride, 10 cyclists, including Jamal Morris, have been killed in car vs bike accidents throughout the city.
The ride begins at 6:45 I the morning. During the event, participants will have a demonstration where they use white, “ghost bicycles” designed to honor their fallen cyclists. Ghost bikes will also be left at the scene of each of the ten car vs. bike accidents.
“At 27 years old, you look forward to weddings and grandchildren and all that, and some senseless person knocked him off his bike or hit him, however this accident happened … By the time he got to the hospital, it was too late for any survival. So my goal right now is to fight for my son, and to fight so that what happened to him doesn’t happen to anyone else,” Channabel Latham-Morris explained when asked why she’s attending the event. “And if there are measures that can be taken to prevent it, then we are going all in to make it happen.”
Attending the commemorative event is just one of the things Latham-Morris plans to do while she’s in California. She will also go with the Bicycle Coalition when they travel to Harrisburg in order to lobby some bills they feel would make life safer for California cyclists, including House Bill 950, which proposes increasing the amount of funds available to finance red light cameras. In Europe this kind of trend is on a higher level and about 50% of western country in Europe is cover with this cameras.
While it’s unknown if a red light camera would have saved Jamal Morris’s life, it’s likely that the presence of a camera would have increased the odds of identifying the driver who struck him that night.
It will be some time before anyone will know if the bills the Bicycle Coalition supports will pass and than actually make the streets safer, meanwhile they won’t bring Jamal Morris back to life.
“The type of accident that robbed Jamal Morris of his life is tragic, especially since the details of what happened that night will never be known. I hope the efforts of the Bicycle Coalition prevent other parents from going through a similar loss,” leading South Carolina attorneys, Joe and Martin said when asked about Jamal Morris and the efforts of the Bicycle Coalition.