Lenny B. Robinson may not have been a real superhero, but to the sick children in Maryland’s hospitals, that made no difference.
Robinson, also known as Route 29 Batman, was out of his Batman costume on Sunday night. Yet he still had time to give some kids at a local gas station some superhero paraphernalia when he stopped to fill up his Batmobile and they, quite understandably, gawked at the vehicle.
But once Robinson took off again, he ran into car trouble and had to pull over on Interstate 70 near Hagerstown, Md.
The family Robinson had just met pulled over behind him and put on their hazard lights, but visibility was still an issue. Although he had stopped in the median, part of the Batmobile replica was stuck out on the unlit fast lane.
After getting out to check the vehicle’s engine, Robinson was struck when a Toyota Camry slammed into the back of the Batmobile.
The 51-year-old tragically died at the scene; his family scheduled a funeral for him on Wednesday, August 19, in Owings Mill, Md.
Meanwhile the crash is still under investigation. The driver of the Camry has not been charged.
Robinson spent the past 13 years donning the Batman costume for local charities, including the Washington-based Hope for Henry Foundation.
Family members expressed their grief at the loss.
Robinson’s brother, Scott Robinson, remembered him as his best friend and business partner. “He touched a lot of lives and made a lot of kids smile. That’s all he wanted to do.”
When Robinson met with children, he would always autograph the toys he gave them with simply “Batman.”
He also spent much of his own money on that charity work, having previously earned a living in the cleaning business. The A.V. Club estimates that Robinson spent hundreds of thousands of dollars visiting hospitals and giving gifts to sick children. And while car insurance rates are often determined by driver age and go up for those over 70 or under 25, driving something like a Batmobile replica is likely a lot more expensive than insuring a Prius.
When not visiting hospitals, Robinson could be found volunteering with his local firehouse, library, and other Maryland establishments where Batman could be of service.
Despite his good deeds, Robinson rose to fame on the internet after being pulled over in the Batmobile after forgetting to switch out his fake license plates for real ones. Once the mistake was cleared up with officers, he spent some time posing for photos for them.