The city of Wilton Manors has experienced some tragedies in 2021.
More specifically, hit and runs that caused the deaths of a few of its residents, including children.
The first accident occurred on April 8 when Glen Flaherty, a 55-year-old gay man, was crossing Northeast Fourth Avenue at the intersection of Northeast 16th Street, near Fort Lauderdale High School, when he was hit by a driver. The driver did not stop.
“The world is a little darker today, a little less funny, a lot more boring with Glen not in it,” said his nephew, Patrick Haus, at the time.
Tim Jordan, who was vacationing in Florida with him, got the call from the police and was told that his friend, who he’d known since grade school, was in critical condition in a hospital where Flaherty died a few hours later.
“After two years, we finally got to have a vacation and this is how it ended. It’s just tragic on all points,” Jordan said. “He was very, very happy and really enjoying himself during our time there.”
Flaherty was from Minneapolis and was enjoying his time in Wilton Manors, his second home. He was a realtor who owned properties in Minneapolis and Florida, traveling to Wilton Manors a few times a year.
The youngest of nine children, Flaherty was proud of his Irish heritage and loved to celebrate holidays and attend pride parades every year in his hometown. Still a practicing Catholic, he attended church regularly with an LGBT-affirming congregation as well.
Almost a year later, families and friends still don’t have answers.
“We wish we had him back,” Jordan said. “We wish we had more answers of what went on. But I suppose we’ll find that out as time goes on.”
The second hit and run occurred on Dec. 27 on Powerline Road. The driver, Sean Charles Greer, drove a vehicle onto the sidewalk and hit six children. Greer confessed and was arrested the next day.
The two children who died were Andrea Fleming, 6 and Kylie Jones, 5. The others, Draya Fleming, 9, Johnathan Carter, 10, Laziyah Stokes, 9, and Audre Fleming, 2, were treated for injuries.
Greer faces two counts of leaving the scene of an accident involving death, two counts of leaving the scene of an accident involving serious bodily injury, two counts of leaving the scene of an accident involving injuries, tampering with evidence, four counts of driving without a license causing death and/or serious bodily injuries and driving with a suspended license.
The accident renewed calls for greater traffic enforcement on the road.
“We as a neighborhood on the Westside have begged, pleaded and written to officials and participated in FDOT’s mollifying ‘surveys’ to lower speeds and enhance safety on PLR; to no tangible results for years,” said Wilton Manors resident Jake Valentine. “Powerline Road is a highway through the middle of our neighborhood surrounded by apartments and with children and with one of Wilton Manors largest parks just a few feet from where the recent national news-making tragedy occurred.”
Grace Ducanis, Florida Department of Transportation Communications officer, said the department is aware of concerns with traffic conditions on the road and an audit was conducted in May, leading to a development plan to include lowering the speed limit.
“The audit participants requested the department consider further reduction to 35 mph and we are currently assessing what roadway and traffic control modifications would be necessary to make 35 mph a realistic speed limit,” Ducanis said.
At the time, The Gazette reached out to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for crash data from a seven-year time span. The request is still being processed. In the meantime, the county’s crash data can be found on the FLHSMV’s new dashboard.