OCEAN CITY — A local man, charged with multiple offenses last August after a fatal hit-and-run collision, pleaded guilty last week and awaits his fate pending a pre-sentence investigation.
Around 3 a.m. last Aug. 30, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers responded to a reported hit-and-run collision involving a bicycle in the area of 2nd Street and Philadelphia Avenue. The bicyclist, later identified as Veronika Badurova, 21, of Slovakia, who was working on a J-1 seasonal visa in the resort, was riding southbound on Philadelphia Avenue when she was struct by an SUV also traveling southbound.
The driver of the SUV, identified as Brooks T. Bratten, 38, of Snow Hill, failed to stop or remain at the scene. Badurova was transported to Peninsula Regional Medical Center in critical condition and two days later she succumbed to injuries sustained in the hit-and-run collision.
Bratten later turned himself in to authorities. The OCPD charged Bratten with two counts of failure to remain at the scene of a fatal traffic collision, two counts of failure to remain at the scene of a traffic collision causing bodily injury, failing to render aid following a traffic collision and negligent driving. Last Friday, Bratten pleaded guilty to failure to stop vehicle at the scene of an accident involving death. Sentencing has been set for Sept. 4.
Badurova worked as a lifeguard at the pool in the Mystic Harbor community in West Ocean City during the summer. She was described after the fatal accident in social media posts as a sweet, hard worker who always had a smile. Residents in the community where she worked held a brief memorial service and her lifeguard chair was adorned with flowers and a candle and notes.
In the day or so after the incident, the local community began reaching out in support of the victim and her family. For example, the Ocean City Baptist Church, which supplies thousands of free meals and spiritual mentoring for foreign student workers who spend the summer in Ocean City, had a special offering at a Sunday service after the fatal accident to help the victim’s family with lodging and food when they arrived in the U.S.
In addition, the Alibi Room in downtown Ocean City held a well-attended special party in Badurova’s memory featuring music from her native Slovakia and collected donations to help with the family’s expenses after the tragic accident and raised over $700 in the process.