Wheelchairs become a traffic concern

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A South Marion Citizen editorial

By The Staff

A pair of recent traffic fatalities in Marion County has put the spotlight on something that we don’t normally consider a road hazard – wheelchairs.

Two men in wheelchairs were killed in July as they attempted to cross busy highways.

On July 19, Doyle McClendon, 73, died when he was struck in his motorized chair as he attempted to cross U.S. Highway 27 near Foxwood.

On July 29, Bryan Sacks of Summerfield was killed in his manual chair when he was struck on busy, but dark, U.S. Highway 441 in the southern part of the county.

Neither was crossing at a light.

In both instances, other cars avoided the collision before the victim was struck. Also in both cases, the people who hit the wheelchair stopped at the scene.

While this may seem to be something new in this area, a Google search for “wheelchair killed” brings up several instances across the country where motorists have struck and killed those in wheelchairs. In some instances, the driver did not stop.

So we must warn drivers to be alert, especially in our county which has a number of wheelchair-bound residents and a huge number of retirement areas.

And the responsibility for avoiding accidents also has to fall on the wheelchair owners themselves. Crossing busy highways at poorly lit areas where there is no stoplight is courting danger.

Let’s get everyone on the same page. This type of accident is particularly devastating both on the victim’s family and on those who hit the wheelchair. Let’s all be careful and keep an eye out for the wheelchairs. And if you’re trying to cross a busy highway, make sure you do so where you can be reasonably safe.