OCEAN CITY – Ocean City’s Walk Smart Lifeguard Crab now has a name: Cheswick.
After narrowing submissions to four choices earlier this summer, social media participants of the Maryland State Highway Administration’s crab naming competition selected Cheswick, gathering 4,028 of more than 5,500 votes.
The name was revealed to an audience at Fish Tales on Sept. 1.
In 2012, Matthew Jude Cheswick was attempting to cross Coastal Highway when Diogo Miller Facchini, 30, of Lorton, Va., struck him and drove away. Facchini was intoxicated and was larger charged in the incident.
Since then, Cheswick’s parents have championed the Walk Smart campaign.
Cheswick’s mother, Cecelia Roe, says she was pleased that the public was aware of what happened, and were supportive of this cause.
“I think anytime we can bring awareness to pedestrian safety, it’s a wonderful thing, especially considering what happened to my son,” Roe says. “My son’s tragedy was the largest tragedy of 2012 that led to this campaign. So as I said, that out of tragedy comes good.”
Among the others speakers were Ocean City Police Department Patrol Division Commander Capt. Kevin Kirstein, Maryland Department of Transportation SHA District 1 Engineer Donnie Drewer and Ocean City Council Secretary Mary Knight.
The OC Walk Smart! Task Force began in 2013, after numerous fatalities the previous year.
In the past three years, the task force has focused on engineering, education and enforcement to improve pedestrian and motor vehicle safety.
“This program, the crab, has won National Highway Traffic Safety (Administration) and the
Governor’s Highway Safety Association award,” Kirstein says. “But we still have a lot to do to get toward zero deaths, the nationwide traffic safety initiative.”
SHA is now preparing to add dune style fencing along the median after making changes to pedestrian crossings and signage in recent years.
Now, with the help of Cheswick’s new mascot name, the city hopes to expand outreach to an ever-changing population.
“I think our campaign has gone a long way and [is] at least making people aware that they should use a crosswalk and not just cross mid-block where people are not expecting it,” Drewer says. “Every week during the summer months, we have to reeducate a different audience.”
Since revealing the Walk Smart! Campaign, the task force says nearly 70 percent of those surveyed were familiar with the crab and its message.
Since his death, Cheswick’s mother and father, Christopher Cheswick, have set up memorial funds, awareness campaigns and scholarships in his name.