On December 7, 2018, I left my office to walk home. Departing from a crowd on 14th Street, NW, I crossed the street on a marked pedestrian crosswalk. Three drivers stopped for me. I walked in front of the first stopped car and as I took another step, an SUV in the second lane struck me. I was knocked down but stayed conscious. Laying on the street, I feared another car could hit me. With adrenaline, I slowly made my way back to the sidewalk. A crowd gathered, and a man brought me my glasses and purse, which flew off from the impact. He yelled, “She’s bleeding!” I couldn’t stop shaking. I was fortunate a doctor walked by. Parting the agitated crowd, she came to me like a fairy “god-doctor” in a dramatic, yet clinical way. She looked directly into my eyes and said firmly, “You are going to be OK.”
In the emergency room, I learned I had multiple fractures on my nose and my left cheek, which was indented. My facial fractures required surgery in order for me to chew and breathe normally. I also had four fractures in my left foot, and one fracture in my right fibula. I needed a wheelchair and could not eat solid food for a few months. I had stitches, puncture wounds, and bruises. It hurt to wear glasses or simply turn on my left side. The driver that struck me did not have car insurance. From a distance I heard her say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t see you.” If she was driving faster, or if I was one step ahead on the street, my outcome could have been devastatingly different.
I do not accept car “accidents” as the price for free movement in our society. They are crashes and we can fix the systems that cause them.
From my wheelchair I started to read about traffic violence in the DC metro area. I learned about the Vision Zero movement to eliminate traffic fatalities on our streets. I eventually met the community of DC Families for Safe Streets, which provides a supportive outlet for all persons affected by traffic violence. This network helped me navigate the difficult first year of physical and emotional healing from my crash. Now, I do not accept car “accidents” as the price for free movement in our society. They are crashes and we can fix the systems that cause them. I am fortunate to walk with small scars on my legs to remind me of one DC rush hour commute. I survived when nearly 90 pedestrians in the region were killed by cars that same year. That is why I dedicate my time to DC Families for Safe Streets.