20-year-old man dies in Philadelphia car crash as fatality rate spikes

A Sept. 24 car crash on Benjamin Franklin Parkway killed one person.

A Sept. 24 car crash on Benjamin Franklin Parkway killed one person. (NBC10)

A 20-year-old man was killed and a woman injured early Friday morning in a crash on Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

The two people were among four riders in a Volkswagen Jetta that Philadelphia Police investigators believe was speeding up the parkway around 4:20 a.m., when the driver swerved to avoid cones and lost control of the car, according to NBC10. The car struck a tree and pole between 20th and 21st streets, near Logan Circle.

2020 has been an especially deadly year on Philadelphia roads. Drivers killed 25% more people compared to last year, according to Philadelphia Police. The death toll includes people on foot, bike, or other drivers, giving the city one of the highest auto fatality rates in the nation per capita.

Friday’s early morning crash appears to be the first deadly collision involving the Center City parkway this year, according to a Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia traffic victim tracker. The tracker counts 58 crash fatalities this year to date.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

Witnesses said the Jetta appeared to crash while racing two other cars down the street, Philadelphia Police told NBC10, adding that they were not yet certain of the causes of the crash.

People who live near the Ben Franklin Parkway have complained of a surge in reckless driving on the scenic road since the start of the pandemic. In April, two neighborhood groups asked city officials to close the outer two lanes of the parkway to motor vehicles.

“In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are writing about the need for a great deal more outdoor space for pedestrian and bicyclist activity than we currently have,” Maggie Mund of Center City Residents Association, and Dennis Boylan of Logan Square Neighbors Association, wrote. “[T]he city needs streets to be closed to motor vehicles in considerable numbers, and it needs them urgently and immediately.”

Subscribe to PlanPhilly

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal