Car collides with person in wheelchair near Stephens College

Monday, April 23, 2012 | 6:54 p.m. CDT; updated 7:28 p.m. CDT, Monday, April 23, 2012
A car collided with a person using a motorized wheelchair Monday near the intersection of College Avenue and Windsor Street. The wheelchair was thrown three buildings past the site of the accident.

COLUMBIA — A car collided with a person using a motorized wheelchair Monday evening near Stephens College, causing the wheelchair to be thrown three buildings past the site of the accident. The victim is in serious condition.

A dark blue Honda Civic was traveling north on College Avenue near Windsor Street when it struck the person using the wheelchair shortly after 5 p.m.


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After the collision, shattered glass lay on the median next to a white canvas shoe. White tissue sat between the median and the car, partially stained red. The damaged wheelchair rested on its side where it had landed near the curb.

Sgt. Harlan Hatton, though unable to disclose the victim's name and the speed at which the car was traveling, described the victim's condition as "serious." The victim was sent to University Hospital.

Due to the accident, Columbia police officers closed part of College Avenue and directed northbound traffic down Windsor.

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Cantor Billows April 23, 2012 | 10:55 p.m.

I'm willing to bet this was caused by another driver on a cell phone. How many people have to die or be injured before this is stopped?

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt April 24, 2012 | 1:58 a.m.

I really hope it's not the person I think it is. The article didn't say anything about gender, but there was a nice lady on a motorized wheelchair that would frequent my register back when I was a cashier at Walmart. I think she lives in the area too, as I've seen her with some regularity going along Walnut/College/Stevens.

To Cantor Billows: Yes, this could have well been caused by someone on a cell phone, but it could have just as well been a number of other things. You're making a lot of assumptions about the accident with almost no information.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking April 24, 2012 | 8:11 a.m.

It does sound like the driver was going kind of fast (wheelchair thrown the distance it was). That's a bad place to be in the road because of the hill just south of Windsor. Drivers need to remember that slower moving vehicles use the roads also (legally), and pay particular attention on blind hills and curves.


(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 24, 2012 | 1:10 p.m.

I agree Mark, but the city didn't do any favors to pedestrians and bikers by putting the north end of the median in its location instead of at the top of the hill.

(Report Comment)
Kevin Gamble April 24, 2012 | 1:13 p.m.

@Jonathan, I think I know who you mean. I've seen her around the neighborhood for years now. She's a familar face and I hope she makes it through this.

With the specialized living & care facilities in the Benton-Stephens neighborhood, there is more than the usual motorized wheelchair traffic in this area.

If anyone is driving through this area, please be mindful. Between wheelchair-bound residents and multiple schools and daycares - not to mention a lot of general pedestrian traffic - this neighborhood has a high concentration of things to watch out for.

Adding hundreds of new student cars to the neighborhood, as the Odle development is planning to do, is only going to make the situation worse and the area more dangerous. This won't be the last of this type of accident, I fear. We're all casualties waiting to happen in the pursuit of personal avarice.

(Report Comment)
Kevin Gamble April 24, 2012 | 1:20 p.m.

@John, you're right about that location. A driver should be able to avoid this if traveling at a safe speed, but it's not ideal - the pedestrian view from the top of the hill there is a lot better.

At the very least, the city should be able to easily build a second access point directly across from Ash, with a sloped break in the curb. Might be a good place for the kind of high-visibility crosswalk that they recently installed on Old 63 next to Stephens Lake Park.

(Report Comment)
Kevin Gamble April 24, 2012 | 1:58 p.m.

The Tribune version of this story includes a little additional info and a link to her daughter's web site - - and Facebook site where she is providing updates.

Apparently she was recently recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest living quadriplegic. I hope she extends the record.

The Trib story also uses some interesting language in depicting the scene. Statements like, "hit by a car yesterday during rush hour while crossing a busy College Avenue" and "was unable to stop before colliding with the wheelchair" strike me as creeping a little bit away from straight reporting.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt April 24, 2012 | 2:58 p.m.

Oh man, she is indeed the lady I was thinking of. This sucks big time. (And yes, I'm terrible at conveying emotion in writing.)

I just hope everything goes well.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 24, 2012 | 3:11 p.m.

I heard the tail-end of a KFRU report that said the police do not believe the driver was speeding or driving while impaired.

(Report Comment)
Kevin Gamble April 24, 2012 | 11:17 p.m.

I walked right through the spot where this occurred today on my way home from work, and noticed a few things.

There is indeed a sloped exit from the sidewalk near the top of the hill there, which would allow crossing College at a point with better visibility - however, the Odle construction across the street has completely removed the sidewalk and put up a fence on the opposite side, making that spot impossible to cross. In other words, there was a potentially safer spot there for Ms. Barnes to cross College, but due to the housing development under construction, it was not available.

I walked across College at that location and looked at distances, sight lines, and traffic. It seemed to me that there was plenty of room and view for a car to stop in time. I had trouble visualizing how someone would be "unable" to stop, and it seemed more likely that speeding or inattention could explain things.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams April 24, 2012 | 11:35 p.m.

Kevin: You don't know the timeline. TV is reporting that the lady did not yield to oncoming traffic. No one has said WHEN she did not yield to oncoming traffic. Was it very late, once a car was too close? Or far away? Neither you nor I know. At this point, you are drawing unwarranted conclusions based upon sympathy for the lady and antipathy towards the driver. You are showing bias and a preconceived conclusion, and that is not what is needed right now. Let the investigators do their jobs. We'll find out the results soon enough.

None of us wants this lady to be at fault for obvious reasons. She may be. She may not be.

But I don't want the driver to be at fault, either. What a horrible thing for him/her!

The only things I'm sure of is that I hope the lady is ok.

And, I also hope the driver is ok.

A tragedy all around, no matter the cause.

(Report Comment)
Kevin Gamble April 25, 2012 | 7:57 a.m.

@Michael: No, I'm not. I'm stating what I know of the area, from my own experience crossing there dozens of times. I'm not drawing conclusions, rather I'm showing skepticism based on the type of language used to report the incident in some places (not here), which suggests that some reporting is either incomplete or speculative. Cite one thing I've said that is neither fact nor presented openly as questioning speculation.

Your own biased conclusion is that I am resentful toward the driver. Reread what I've written, and you'll see that the antipathy present is for the physical circumstances of the area, made less safe by the construction going on.

Of course it's a terrible situation for everyone. I completely agree with all of your sentiments around that, including how terrible it must be for the driver, and I don't "want" it to be her fault any more than you do. I've taken the time to explain some distinctive aspects of the neighborhood to help advise others of risk. You should follow your own advice about unwarranted conclusions.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams April 25, 2012 | 8:26 a.m.

Kevin: You are the one who posted, "It seemed to me that there was plenty of room and view for a car to stop in time. I had trouble visualizing how someone would be "unable" to stop, and it seemed more likely that speeding or inattention could explain things."

This assumes one specific timeline, the one where the wheelchair is in the lane early and the car is still well away. That's why it "seems" there was plenty of room and makes it seem "more likely" speeding or inattention occurred. Your statement is skewed because you assume a set of events that may not be factual.

If you are jogging down the sidewalk and my cycle crosses 30 feet away, you have ample time to react.

But not if I cross 2 feet away. Huge difference.

You may indeed be correct in your assessment; fact is, you and I don't know one way or the other. We wait.

(Report Comment)

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