A grieving father leads a sea of cyclists on his wife’s last route

Note

On the day they left Ukraine, Sarah and Dan Langenkamp had no time to pack their home. their furniture, I left behind clothes and children’s toys, not knowing if I would ever see them again.

Dan Langenkamp hopes they don’t.

However, in recent days, Thanks to the heroic efforts of embassy staff and a Ukrainian host, boxes full of these items began to appear at the family’s Maryland home.

for the family As soon as they arrived, it was a relief. Relief means they no longer have to live out of suitcases. The boxes contained many reminders of Sarah Langenkamp, ​​who was killed in August by a flatbed truck driver who was riding her bike from her sons’ elementary school homecoming.

Dan Langenkamp is heartbroken as he sorts through his wife’s belongings. A lot of stuff was screaming for him, and he said, “They’re like, ‘I need him.’ ‘I need the owner of my property to be useful,’ He is not here.’ “

Those boxes don’t just contain yoga pants. They have she Yoga pants. They do not include boots. They have she Boots.

“Now it’s cold, He was empty and had a nice pair of winter boots,” he said. “I had to put them in the back of the closet.”

on Saturday Bethesda, Md. And drivers passing through DC may have seen a sea of ​​cyclists riding together on the streets. They followed Dan Langenkamp along the last road he and his wife traveled; And they ride as much as they can. The two of them drove from her children’s elementary school to the crash site on River Street. Then they continued riding until they reached the Capitol Reflecting Pool. There, they called on federal lawmakers and officials to dedicate resources and implement measures to make roads safer across the country.

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Trek, Washington Area Bicyclists Association; More than 1,500 people are expected to participate in the “Ride for Your Life” event, promoted by Families for Safe Streets and others. Among those who took part were those who loved Sarah Langenkamp, ​​including her children, who had never met her but recognized the need to act on her death. She was a U.S. diplomat who was killed on a Washington-area road after fleeing Ukraine for safety.

A US diplomat has left Ukraine and died on a Washington-area road.

“Lethal road design is a policy choice,” said Colin Browne of the Washington Area Bicyclists Association. “Tools to make streets safer for everyone—walkers; rolling, riding a bicycle riding the bus Driving—there are; They are being used in cities all over the world.”

Rooney called Saturday’s ride as a means of protest, “simply terrible: hundreds of people are killed every year and thousands more are injured and killed on our region’s roads.” Not because they don’t know how to prevent it. Too many of our elected officials and agency leaders are still afraid to make driving and parking less convenient.”

I told you about Sarah Langenkamp in an earlier column. I’ve talked in other columns about other pedestrians and cyclists injured on local roads: Brett Badin, 32; 5-year-old Allison Hart; Michael Hawkins Randall, 70; Charles Jackson, 64; 65-year-old Michael Gordon and 40-year-old Shawn O’Donnell. Four of these deaths occurred in a single month.

At the age of 5, she died while crossing the street with her bicycle. Her legacy should be a safer road.

Behind each of those names came a family and activists who unexpectedly came to grief, calling on officials to do more to prevent future deaths.

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There were other rides and rallies in the region aimed at raising awareness of the need to improve road safety. But most are calling for local officials to take action. Participants at Saturday’s event called on Congress to fund safe bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure and for the Department of Transportation to implement measures to improve truck safety. In one measure, cars, To prevent bicycles or pedestrians from sliding down the car; Larger trucks will be required to include built-in guards on the front and sides.

Langenkamp said his wife could only survive on that scale. The truck that hit him was driving down the road as he turned right into the parking lot, according to police.

“These deaths are really serious,” Langenkamp said. “We should not hide this. No one should be killed on our streets like this. People say she was ‘hit by a truck’ or ‘hit by a truck’. no He was hit by a truck and died instantly on the side of the road.”

His voice trembled as he spoke. He knew it was not a gentle picture; But he believes that what she went through was not benign, and that people need to acknowledge that to fully understand what traffic victims and their families go through.

On Saturday, many people gave speeches and some high-ranking officials sent statements that were read aloud. One of those came from US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. Among them, we recognize the importance of the event to be held before the World Day of Remembrance for Street Refugees.

“Every year, On World Road Traffic Victims Day, we express our condolences to those who lost their lives in traffic accidents,” the statement said. “But sadly, it’s not enough. We must all sacrifice ourselves to end this crisis on our roads and create a safer transportation system so that we don’t have to share this grief.”

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After his wife’s death, Langenkamp received comments from senators and other U.S. officials. A letter arrived from President Biden.

“Sarah will always be remembered for her unwavering commitment to our country,” Biden’s letter said. “She is a dedicated ambassador for delivering on America’s promises to its citizens and the world. Thank you and your family for your and Sarah’s courageous service in Ukraine.”

In a letter, Attorney General Merrick Garland spoke about working with Sarah, wishing her peace, democracy He represented the best of America by working tirelessly on behalf of our country to maintain prosperity and compliance, and with the best of personal and self-sacrifice. Law enforcement.”

Dan Langenkamp worked at the state department with his wife, but has retired since her death. He spent his days instead; He said he learned how to take care of two children on his own, trying to make sure he didn’t die for nothing. Their sons, 8 and 10, were enrolled in a new school at the time of the crash.

“It was really hard,” Langenkamp said. “I was so excited to go to Target the other day to buy winter stuff. We always go to Target together, and all of a sudden I’m this poor dad doing it. I’m trying to pick out pants that fit me, and Sarah knows it’s so cold.”

When he talks about packing those boxes, he vacillates between describing it as part of “getting our lives settled” and “moving on with our lives.”

“Sometimes my son comes home from school and thinks, ‘I don’t know how to do it myself,'” he said. “

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