Family of Esplanade hit-and-run victim demands that city do more to protect cyclists

Family of Esplanade hit-and-run victim demands that city do more to protect cyclists

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - City Council members on Thursday (March 14) acknowledged the family of one of the cyclists who was struck and killed on Esplanade Avenue the night of the Endymion parade. The family believes biking safety needs to be addressed now, before another life is lost.

"As a mother, I'm going to be here to represent my baby who died and her friend who died," said Lois Benjamin.

Family members of Sharree Walls spoke before council about the suspected drunk driver that took her life and the life of David Hynes and injured seven others. "You guys have a lot of people that come visit this city,” said Cardies Walls. “But I didn't come to visit. I came to lay my daughter to rest."

Their hearts are broken, and they're hoping for change. “My baby was real,” Benjamin said. “I'm a mom, and the feeling I had when I saw her at the funeral home - I don't want any parent to ever go through.”

On the night of the crash, Kenny Belau and his family were riding bikes just a block away from the scene. His 2-year-old daughter was riding on the bike with him.

"We were on Ursulines, and had that guy come up Ursulines, it just makes you think that really could have been us,” Belau said.

Belau has been cycling for years and says the Endymion night crash was upsetting, especially knowing that the victims did nothing wrong.

"It's so hard to put your mind around that people were out there and doing the right thing, having fun and keeping a car off the road by being on their bikes, and they get killed doing that. It's really rough,” Belau said. "Hopefully there will be changes made to protect the people of New Orleans and the bikers here, because we can't control how people drive and the decisions that they make," Dana Walls said.

The victim’s family points to the city’s growing bike culture and say something must be done now to increase biking safety.

“So get rid of the red tape, get rid of the windbagging and do something and do it now so no one has to go through this again,” Benjamin said. “It’s not fair.”

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