Moustaches, aviator glasses, 2013 fatality stats and poetry

March 14, 2014

More than a month has passed since a record-breaking number of brave souls ran their warm bodies into the cold Atlantic to raise money for Special Olympics Delaware.

I remember walking down the Boardwalk, past Grotto Pizza, toward the thickest part of the crowd at the end of Rehoboth Avenue. Two police officers - one male and one female - caught my eye immediately. They were among the dozens of law enforcement and emergency responder volunteers on hand to provide security and safety. What tripped my brain was their uniforms. A style statement. Particularly their hats. We spoke.

“This is a typical motor unit patrolman’s hat,” said Casey Breidigan. She’s with the Bethany Beach Police Department.

Kirk Marino told me he’s a patrolman first class with Milford Police Department’s motorcycle unit. “This is a crush-up hat,” Kirk told me. “It fits in just about any saddlebag and is based on a really old Delaware State Police uniform.”

They said an officer’s presence at an event can help defuse potential problems. “It’s all about the image,” said Casey. “How you’re perceived when you walk up. You need to look sharp and put together.”

“If it were up to me,” said Kirk, “moustaches and aviator glasses would be mandatory.”

Casey just smiled.

Delaware 2013 fatal statistics

Alison Kirk, community relations officer for Delaware’s Office of Highway Safety, brought 2013 fatal crash statistics to Monday’s Lewes-Rehoboth Rotary meeting.

“I was hopeful that for the first time in many years the total would be below 100,” she said. “But just before the year ended, a man injured seriously in an October crash finally died. So we ended the year with 100 fatalities in a total of 96 fatal crashes. That compares to 110 fatal crashes in 2012 with a total of 116 deaths.

Kirk said Delaware’s highest fatality numbers were recorded back in the 1930s and 1940s. “Now cars are safer and people are wearing seat belts.”

Her statistics show that pedestrian and bicycle fatalities statewide were down in 2013 compared to 2012. There were 26 pedestrian deaths in 2013 compared to 30 in 2012, and two bicycle fatalities in 2013 compared to four in 2012. What opens my eyes, though, is that 28 of the 100 fatalities in 2013 were walkers and cyclists.

“I see a lot of reports come across my desk showing that a dead pedestrian simply stepped out in front of a moving vehicle,” said Kirk. We see that on Route 1 way too much.

The only 2013 fatality statistic that ran ahead of 2012 was in the motorcycle category. Twenty motorcycle riders died in 2013 crashes compared to 17 in 2012.

Other highlights from Kirk’s report show:

• Males constitute 71 percent of the 2013 fatalities.

• The greatest number of 2013 fatalities - nine - came between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.

• Saturday is the most dangerous day to be on Delaware highways. Of the 2013 fatalities, 21 came on Saturdays. Next was Thursdays with 16.

• People between the ages of 35 and 64 were involved in 51 percent of the fatalities.

• Sussex County recorded seven motorcycle fatalities, seven pedestrian fatalities and the only two bicycle fatalities in Delaware in 2013. Alcohol was involved in half - 17 - of the 34 fatal crashes in Sussex County in 2013 and in 114 crashes in Sussex in 2013 that resulted in injuries.

Kirk said Sussex fatalities in 2013 were spread fairly evenly across the county but were concentrated around populated areas such as Seaford, Georgetown and approaching the beach areas.

A batch of excellent poetry

If you like poetry - really good poetry - check out the most recently published edition of Delaware Poetry Review at Guest edited by acclaimed Delaware poet and writer Billie Travalini, the current edition includes recent works from nine poets. Most of them have Mid-Atlantic roots and connections; a few are from as far away as Washington state and Ireland. Rehoboth Beach’s Sherry Chappelle is among those in the current edition. All, by Travalini’s consideration, have works worthy of being included in a collection of first-rate poets.

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