WASHINGTON (7News) — U.S. Park Police confirm that 55-year-old Rhonda Whitaker and 60-year-old Waldon Adams of Washington, D.C. died after they were hit by a motorist on Saturday morning at Hains Point.
Investigators are still looking into what led up to this incident. U.S. Park Police tell 7News that the driver of the pickup truck drove away from the collision and the driver is now cooperating with investigators.
“Both Rhonda and Waldon were longtime members of the Miriam’s Kitchen family, and tireless advocates for ending homelessness in D.C,” said Miriam’s Kitchen in a statement to 7News. “The Miriam’s Kitchen community mourns this tragic loss. We will honor their memories by continuing to fight for housing justice in D.C. We ask that everyone respect the ways that their families and the Miriam’s Kitchen community are grieving at this time.”
Whitaker was an advocate for ending homelessness in Washington, D.C. Whitaker had two boys and she experiences homelessness for nearly 27 years.
Before she died, Whitaker said she remembered the day when she entered Miriam’s Kitchen.
“I can remember that day I walked into that dining hall and I saw all those people sitting in that dining hall that were just like me,” said Whitaker.
In a video that was posted in May 2020, Whitaker said she joined Miriam’s Kitchen Speaker’s Bureau.
“I started to let my voice be heard on the steps of the Wilson Building,” said Whitaker. “Not only was my voice heard at the Wilson Building, my voice was heard inside the Wilson Building. Miriam’s Kitchen paved the way for me and others to be housed.”
In December 2019, Whitaker participated in the Washington Community Foundation panel on “The Truth About Chronic Homelessness and The Solution.”
“We have families. We are people,” she said. “I lost my job and became homeless. I got another job, but couldn’t afford a home no one knew. I took later shifts to have a place to be warm.”
“After nearly 27 years on the street, I have peace of mind today,” Whitaker said in May 2020. “It was hard. Yes, it was hard, but I never gave up and Miriam’s Kitchen never gave up on me.”
Adams was an outreach specialist with Pathways to Housing D.C. Adams was a housing advocate for people experiencing homelessness.
“For many years, Waldon experienced homelessness, losing jobs and places to stay while battling an addiction to alcohol and drugs,” according to Washington Community Foundation’s website. “One day, he visited a support center on 14th Street NW and the staff there connected him with his own apartment — with no preconditions. Having his own home gave Waldon stability, and this led to other positive changes in his life.”
Before he died, Waldon worked to help others like himself exit homelessness by connecting them with housing.
Detectives with U.S. Park Police say they are currently working with the U.S. Attorney's Office to decide if charges will be filed in the hit and run crash, pending results of a toxicology report and a police investigation.