According to the Clarksville Leaf Chronicle, a woman was killed on July 17 when she was struck by a motorist while riding her electric wheelchair on Providence Boulevard.
The Clarksville Police Department reported that Ellen Hapiuk, 47, was struck by a car and sent flying from her wheelchair into a pole. Hapiuk died before rescue crews could get to her. She was allegedly traveling in her wheelchair on the road’s right lane of traffic when 24-year-old Nathaniel Crespo’s 2003 Nissan Altima struck her. The accident occurred near the 710 Providence Blvd., around 9 p.m.
Crespo was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to police, but he was driving without insurance. A police report does not mention if Crespo will face charges for the wreck, saying that he was traveling at 40 mph at the time of the crash.
Hapiuk’s wheelchair split in half, according to the Leaf Chronicle. The base of her wheelchair was thrown under Crespo’s vehicle and remained there until he made a complete stop. Hapiuk reportedly was not wearing reflective clothing.
Friends of Hapiuk said that the conditions of sidewalks and the lack of crosswalks in the neighborhood are to blame for her death. “I still think it has a lot to do with how the sidewalks are out there. I think if there were better sidewalks she probably wouldn’t use it,” Barbara Erickson, a wheelchair user told the Leaf Chronicle. “When you go from the street to the sidewalk, even in the driveway area, there’s enough of a lip that you can’t get up on the lip unless you’re going pretty fast.”
The Leaf Chronicle reported that there is not a single crosswalk on Providence Boulevard or Ft. Campbell Boulevard, two of the city’s busiest roads. After six people were killed in pedestrian accidents in the area between 2007 and 2011, the Tennessee Department of Transportation designed a $300,000 plan to build five crosswalks; however, due to budget cuts they were never built. One of the crosswalks would have been 100 feet away from where Hapiuk’s accident took place, according to the Leaf Chronicle.
Clarksville is under a federal court order to build Americans with Disabilities Act compliant sidewalks—however, Providence and Fort Campbell boulevards are state roads.
This accident is truly heartbreaking—an investigation should determine if there was negligence that contributed to Hapiuk’s death. Regardless of fault, the city and state should do more to protect its citizens, especially the disabled.
If you have had a loved one killed in a pedestrian or car accident, let us help you. Contact our Nashville car accident attorney now at (615) 845-6141 for a free evaluation of your case.
“The LORD shall judge the people: judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me.” – Psalms 7:8