Man Struck by Car in Clarendon Runs Race — Michael Sizemore, 28, is making a remarkable recovery after being struck by a car in Clarendon and nearly dying this past fall. Sizemore, who suffered a fractured skull and two broken legs in the accident, among other injuries, ran a 5K race in Martinsville, Va., near his hometown of Collinsville, this past Saturday. Sizemore’s father, girlfriend, friends and other families were on hand to cheer him on. [Martinsville Bulletin, Facebook]
Residents Speak Out at Tax Rate Hearing — It was a much shorter affair than Tuesday’s nearly four hour public budget hearing, but a public hearing on Arlington County’s proposed tax rate drew a small crowd of activists Thursday night. Those advocating for more affordable housing and social services asked the County Board to raise taxes up to the legal maximum of 5 cents, while budget hawks asked for no tax increase or, at minimum, following the County Manager’s recommendation for a 3.2 cent tax increase. [Sun Gazette]
County to Hold Student ‘ART’ Contest — The county is challenging budding middle school and high school artists in Arlington to design a pedestrian safety-themed “wrap” for buses. The winning entry will be used to wrap one ART bus. The submission deadline is June 3. [Arlington County]
The man who was hit by a car while walking in Clarendon two months ago is making progress in his recovery, but there’s a long road ahead.
Just yesterday (Thursday), 27-year-old Michael Sizemore underwent another surgery to re-attach the section of skull that was removed to alleviate pressure on his brain. The accident had left him with a variety of serious injuries including a fractured skull, two broken legs and multiple lacerations. After being struck, Sizemore was in a drug-induced coma for days to give his brain time to heal. Sizemore’s father, Mark Sizemore, says yesterday’s surgery appears to have been successful.
“The injury to his brain was right above his left ear where the skull fracture occurred, and that’s your speech center,” Mark said. “The majority of the injury has affected him of course cognitively, and in his speech center. He is recovering his cognition and his speech is getting better every day.”
Doctors predict it will take about a year for Michael to rehabilitate his speech and his ability to walk. Mark said it seems as though his son understands what happened to him, but his focus is simply on getting back to living his life.
“Michael just wants to get back to living, is what he tells me. He’s not so much focused on what happened. I think that will come later,” Mark said.
Once he fully recovers, Michael is determined to return to his job as a lobbyist at the Virginia Association of Community Services Boards, which advocates for organizations that help people with developmental delays, substance abuse problems and mental health issues.
“He tells me that almost every single day. That’s what we’re trying to work towards with his rehab,” Mark said. “I think he’ll do it. I think he’ll rehab to the point where he can get back to that job. That’s what drives him.”
Mark says his son and the rest of the family don’t harbor anger toward Tyler Bruce Wills, the man accused of striking Michael. They believe that justice will be served in due time.
“He realizes it’s really a random event that happened to him,” Mark said. “Michael is not looking for revenge against this person, he’s looking for justice to take care of that.”
Meantime, Wills remains in jail on charges of DUI and DUI Maiming. Wills waived his right to a preliminary hearing, which was scheduled for last week, and awaits trial. Police say due to results from the alcohol test and multiple witness accounts, the evidence against Wills is quite strong.
As for Mark, he credits the doctors at George Washington University Hospital with saving his son. That’s where Michael was taken immediately after the accident, and where he had his surgery yesterday. Mark said the situation could have turned out far differently had the hospital and its head trauma experts not been nearby.
“Thank God it was there, because they saved his life,” Mark said. “If my son had not been close to that place, he would not have lived. It was a miracle.”
Update at 12:40 p.m. — Arlington County says its Emergency Communications Center is now accessible from cell phones, but other problems may remain.
More problems with the county’s 911 system are being reported as the area continues to recover from Friday’s storms.
Arlington County says its Emergency Communications Center is “experiencing problems with 911 calls from wireless phones.”
“Verizon is working to fix the problem,” the county said in a brief statement. “Please call our alternate emergency number at 703-741-3035 for assistance if you cannot get through on 9-1-1 or go to your local Fire Station.”
As stated during a press conference with the head of the county’s Office of Emergency Management earlier today, Arlington’s non-emergency number, 703-558-2222, may also be an option for cell phone users to reach emergency dispatchers.
The director of Arlington’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) says the county and utility companies are “making slow and steady progress” in the cleanup and recovery efforts following Friday night’s storm.
At a press conference today, OEM Director Jack Brown told reporters that Dominion is making “yeoman strides” to restore power to tens of thousands of Arlington residents. Despite the widespread power outages — 26,997 Dominion customers were without power as of 12:45 p.m., down from 68,000 Friday night — Brown said there has so far been no loss of life as a result of heat following the storm.
Dominion expects to restore power to 80-85 percent of customers by Tuesday night, and 90-95 percent of customers by Thursday night. Restoration works is being focused on high-density areas.
“It is a matter of priorities,” Brown said. “Eventually Dominion will get to the neighborhoods.”
Brown said power has been restored to most critical county infrastructure, but noted that Culpepper Garden, home to 276 low- and moderate-income Arlington seniors, is running on generator power and currently does not have air conditioning. The seniors are being kept in the facility for now while Dominion is being asked to prioritize power restoration to the facility, Brown said.
Brown encouraged residents who don’t have power to go to the county’s 16 cooling centers, its shopping malls, or its community pools. Arlington has set up a 24-hour drop-in cooling center at the Walter Reed Community Center (2909 16th Street S.). Daytime cooling centers include other Arlington community centers and libraries, as well as the Ballston and Pentagon City malls. Currently the Yorktown and Wakefield high school community pools are open, while the Washington-Lee pool has closed due to a lack of water pressure.
“We need to pull together,” Brown said. “This event could last for several days, possibly a couple of weeks. Let’s check on your neighbors. It’s really about neighbors helping neighbors. Volunteer to transport those in need to county cooling centers.”
Brown said that all major county thoroughfares are open, although 19 county road remain blocked by storm debris. A dozen county crews are working to clear the debris, and debris pickup is expected to continue for the next 2-3 weeks, Brown said. Meanwhile, 39 traffic signals are still dark this afternoon (down from a peak of 96) because of power outages. Citing last night’s fatal pedestrian accident, Brown encouraged motorists to drive carefully on county streets.
“Please drive safely,” Brown said. “We really need people to slow down, particularly at these intersections. Please treat all… intersections [with non-functioning traffic signals] as four way stops.”
Brown said 911 service “remains spotty” in Arlington. He said residents who want to report an emergency should first try 911, then the county non-emergency number at 703-558-2222, then — if all else fails — seek help at the nearest fire station.
Verizon provides the Arlington’s 911 infrastructure and Brown said the county is going to investigate what went wrong.
“The county is going to conduct a thorough investigation of what happened to our 911 system… so we don’t have a repeat of this in the future,” he said. So far, he said, there have been no reports of anybody suffering serious consequences as a result of a delay in response due to a 911 failure.
Brown said that other county communications infrastructure has performed well. Despite some disruptions in the hours following the storm, Brown said cell phone service has been one of the county’s most reliable forms of communication. He noted, however, that the county’s radio systems did not suffer any outages as a result of the storm. Brown also said that RACES, the county’s emergency amateur radio network, was activated over the weekend.
All in all, Brown said he’s pleased with the response to the storm so far.
“The county’s resources have been stretched very thin,” Brown said. “I think we’ve done a good job of responding.”
(Updated at 2:55 p.m.) Parts of Old Dominion Drive and Rock Spring Road remained closed this afternoon as crews continued to clean up from the “macroburst” storm that ravaged parts of North Arlington on Sunday.
The smell of freshly-cut wood and the sound of chainsaws and wood chippers was pervasive throughout Yorktown and the other hart-hit neighborhoods. Private disaster recovery trucks — along with crews from Dominion, Verizon and other utilities — roamed the streets, many of which are still covered with debris waiting to be hauled off.
No word yet on when Old Dominion and Rock Spring, which are both open to some local traffic, may reopen to through traffic.