Thursday, February 23, 2017

Icy Sidewalk Causes Crash, Damaged Wheelchair

 Patti King shares her experiences at a meeting of public officials
and advocates for the disabled

(C) 2017 Luke T. Bush

PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY -- Feb. 23, 2017

Patti King was trapped in her home for two-and-a-half weeks.  Why?  Because someone didn't properly clear a wintry sidewalk.

This morning Patti shared her story during a meeting of public officials and advocates for the disabled held at the Clinton County Government Center.  Among the issues discussed was the topic of assessable routes.

For decades the city has been pushing property owners clear snow from sidewalks adjacent to their properties.  Most comply with the regulation but it only takes one to not to do his duty and an accident ensues especially when a pedestrian is forced to use the street.  

One time a Plattsburgh State college student was walking in the street due to a snow-blocked sidewalk.  A car struck and killed her.

And accidents can happen even when someone stays on the sidewalk.  One slip: a broken leg or arm.

Or in the case of Patti King, a damaged power wheelchair that she depends upon for mobility.

She explained she was carefully moving along near the corner of North Catherine and Cornelia Streets, watching out for icy spots.  Despite her caution her wheelchair slipped, crashing into an icy snowbank.  The impact broke the fork holding one wheel and her chair was bent.  Patti was able to get back home with her wheelchair scraping along.

Power wheelchairs are more difficult to fix compared to manual ones.  Without her means of mobility Patti was forced to stay home for days on end, unable to move or do anything for herself.  Her wheelchair is only partially repaired.  It  might take up to three weeks to fix it.

As a North Country Center for Independence board member she is more than aware of the wintry sidewalk problem.  Then again for wheelchair users there are always problems even during the warm sunny weather.  Years ago Patti had the right of way on a crosswalk and a driver clipped her wheelchair with his car.

Advocates mentioned during the meeting that some in the disabled community stay home because routes are inaccessible, even dangerous.  Essentially they're trapped.

Revised 2/23/17 at 4:26  PM for accuracy.

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