Two people who died after being hit by a pickup truck at Hains Point in D.C. on Saturday dedicated their lives to helping people experiencing homelessness after they each overcame it themselves.
Waldon Adams was 60, and Rhonda Whitaker was 55. Both D.C. residents helped the organization Miriam’s Kitchen. Whitaker was about to receive an award from the group for her service.
“Both Rhonda and Waldon were longtime members of the Miriam’s Kitchen family, and tireless advocates for ending homelessness in D.C. The Miriam’s Kitchen community mourns this tragic loss,” the organization said in a statement.
Adams’ message to people experiencing homelessness was, “You can do this, and not just you can do this but you are worth this."
Adams competed in more than a dozen marathons, including the Marine Corps Marathon. He had a great sense of humor even in tough situations, and shared his experiences to help others, said Pathways to Housing DC Executive Director Christy Respress.
"You met him, and in his company you immediately felt loved and seen and taken care of," she said.
Adams’ message to people experiencing homelessness was, “You can do this, and not just you can do this but you are worth this,” Respress said.
Whitaker channeled the pain of life on the streets for about 20 years into helping others.
Adams and Whitaker was walking at Hains Point, at the southern tip of East Potomac Park, at about 10:30 a.m. Saturday when they were hit by a pickup truck. They were taken to a hospital, where they each were pronounced dead.
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U.S. Park Police are working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to determine any charges to be filed against the driver.
The fatal crash has renewed calls for increased safety measures in the area. People who regularly use the park to walk or bike said they have had close calls with drivers.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said safety improvements for the land overseen by the National Park Service need to be discussed.
“I do think that we need to undertake, with the Park Service, a way to make the park safer for all patrons,” she said.
D.C. Council Member Elissa Silverman said some changes could be made fairly quickly.
“Maybe one lane for car traffic and one lane for pedestrian and bike traffic. I think we should consider all of those, and then come up with a plan,” she said.