On the last Sunday of 2013, the Los Angeles Times published a short article about a wheelchair-related tragedy. Unfortunately that three-paragraph piece was not placed on the front page. In fact, it could not be found by any reader who failed to study the brief pieces at the bottom of page 33.
The reported tragedy concerned the death of a 56-year old man, a gentleman who acted in a manner which suggested that he had hoped to roll through life without encountering any major limits. In fact, he had chosen to cross the street in his wheelchair, and to do so at 11 PM on a Saturday night. That same man had wheeled himself into the eastbound lanes on one of LA’s avenues, and had been hit by an SUV.
The article indicates that he died as a result of that accident. He appears to have died at the scene, as there is no mention of an ambulance having been called, so that he could be taken to a hospital. The Garden Grove police were aware of what took place, but they as of Sunday morning, they had ruled against charging the driver with any traffic violation.
That decision is no-doubt based on the fact that the man in the wheelchair, an LA resident named Leonard Christian had failed to try crossing at a cross-walk. The driver, Juan Lopez had apparently been tested, and had shown that he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Still, there are certainly reasons to question the wisdom of the quick decision that had been made by the City’s authorities on law enforcement.
Apparently, no one checked to see if there was a ramp-like structure at the curb, right at the point where it met the cross-walk. Another question that might be asked is this: What was the condition of the sidewalk in the area leading-up to that curb? In fact, the approach taken by the Garden Grove police appears to differ to a marked degree to the one taken about a year ago, when a driver hit a pedestrian on Wilshire Boulevard, along a stretch in west Los Angeles.
The newspapers and media seemed to give that tragedy a good-bit more attention. The driver was faulted, because he had failed to yield to the person who had stepped into the crosswalk. Of course, there are bound to be times when someone who is confined to wheelchair may encounter an unexpected obstacle. That obstacle may well become a barrier, one that has kept a set of wheels from rolling into the spot where one rolling individual has tried to guide them. The reported accident may demonstrate what can happen at such a time.
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.