Man in Wheelchair Struck by Car on Lee Highway

by ARLnow.com October 20, 2011 at 10:28 am 3,808 74 Comments

A man in a wheelchair was struck by a car on Lee Highway in Cherrydale last night.

The accident happened around 9:40 p.m., as a political debate was letting out at the Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department. The man’s injuries were not reported to be serious or life-threatening.

The following was sent to members of the Cherrydale neighborhood listserv early this morning.

Right after the debate, around 9:40 PM a disabled neighbor from the Cherrydale Rehabilitation Center was struck while wheeling across Lee hwy. He was conscious and not bleeding when we arrived.

Of note, it was dark, raining, 2 street lights were out (on either corner between the hardware store and Safeway), the victim was wearing dark clothes, in a dark red wheelchair, and he was crossing where there was no cross walk, i.e. from the NW backside of Safeway crossing to Oakland, which works out a little diagonal. He was struck by a car heading west. It does not appear she was speeding.

I believe [REDACTED] and others have complained to the County that this is not a safe crossing area.

It is simply human to take the shortest distance whenever possible. The victim was heading home from 7/11. He could have crossed at the official cross walk by the firestation but that’s a long light. So it seems to me we need to recognize the human need to travel the shortest distance. Put in another crosswalk. Keep it well lighted. Probably other good ideas are out there as well.

I put in a call to Shannon Flanagan Watson at the County Manager’s office. I’m sure she’ll get back to us shortly and I’ll keep you posted.

Our own Cherrydale Vol Fire Dept volunteers were first on the scene. Cherrydale Rehab employees were very supportive. I’ll keep you all posted on how he is doing.

  • drax

    Doesn’t sound like a crosswalk would have made a difference.

    • Steamboat Willie

      This is true Drax, especially considering that the percentage of drivers who actually obey the law and stop for pedestrians needing to enter the marked crosswalks along that section of Lee Highway is less than 1%.

      • CW

        If i’m reading the location right, that’s a pretty clear stretch of highway. But if you can’t see someone, well, you can’t see someone…

      • Elle Kasey

        The law is not that cars stop for pedestrians “needing to enter…crosswalks” it is for cars to stop for pedestrians IN crosswalks. Both pedestrians and drivers seem to be making this mistake with increasing frequency.

  • ARL

    Or the person can wait 3 horrendously long minutes at the crosswalk light by the 7-11 and not get hit by a car. Sorry, human nature or not I definitely can’t get behind this one.

    • Piedmonter


      • CourthouseGirl

        Yep. The guy was wearing dark clothes, in the dark, crossing where no one is expecting him. This is why we have crosswalks. USE THEM. Everyone is safer when everyone plays by the rules. They are to protect pedestrians AND drivers. I feel awful for the driver who hit him.

  • Heather

    I walked that route many a time when my mother was a resident @ CDale Rehab and often noticed folks dodging cars instead of taking the designated crosswalks. Not sure why folks don’t use the crosswalks but they are there for a reason.

    • Steamboat Willie


      See my comment above. There’s a designated and marked crosswalk at the Safeway, between the lights at Pollard and Monroe, but cars almost never stop for pedestrians. I’ve been nearly rear-ended when I have stopped to allow pedestrians to cross there.

      • So..

        So you are saying that because “less than 1% of cars stop at crosswalks for peds on Lee Hwy” (a great armchair QB analysis, I must say), that peds now have a right to just cross wherever?

        Cross walk is there for a reason, had the guy been crossing there I would maybe fault the driver after seeing all the facts, but he did not want to wait 3 long long minutes waiting. Drivers need to be on the look out for this sort of thing, but if a ped is going to take a chance crossing in not a designated area, I’m sorry but its on him/her.

      • Aaron

        The 7-11 in question is the one at Pollard, right? If so, there is a pair of crosswalks immediately AT the 7-11 to legally cross Lee Highway with the assistance of a traffic light.

  • CW

    Wow, second paragraph, ouch!!

  • Rick

    I think sending VDOT to re-calibrate the walk signals is a lot cheaper than arlington’s blank check policy on building crosswalks.

    • JamesE

      Obviously the solution is to just make one giant crosswalk covering every road in the county. This was clearly the driver’s fault for hitting someone jaywalking (rolling?) in dark clothes at night in the rain with no street lights.

      • CW

        Jayrolling, is that like rickrolling?

        • Carl

          Nobody saw him rollin’.

          • Virginia^2

            They don’t see me rollin’, they hatin’

          • CW

            I hope he wasn’t ridin dirty…

      • Steamboat Willie


        In this instance, the jaywalker seems to be at fault, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a larger issue with crosswalks in Arlington. The rate at which drivers ignore pedestrian crosswalks is astonishing. Have you tried crossing Quincy just north of Washington Lee High School? Drivers just blast through those areas.

        • Rick

          That doesn’t mean build more though.

        • Quoth the Raven

          Have to agree with you here – to me, Washington Blvd going through Westover is the worst – two clearly marked crosswalks but drivers consistenly blow right by them. Nearly every time I go home I see parents with kids nearly getting killed b/c folks won’t stop. Building more isn’t the answer. Getting drivers to stop ignoring them is.

          • Steamboat Willie

            Agree with both of you and didn’t mean to suggest I wanted more crosswalks.

        • Clarendon

          Was the guy crossing at an intersection or mid-block ? If at an intersection, Virginia law does not care whether there is a crosswalk or not if the road being crossed has a speed limit of 35 mph or less. The rights and responsibilities of drivers and pedestrians are exactly the same whether there is a painted crosswalk or not in such cases.


          There is an interesting article (may be able to find it for free) on the whole campaign that coined the term “jaywalk”. Here is an abstract:


          • Michael

            Interesting history on jaywalking Clarendon. Unfortunately, most of the comments here don’t understand that because the intersection does not have a marked crosswalk, does not mean that a pedestrian can’t cross here. A marked crosswalk simply makes it more obvious that there are pedestrians, although there are studies that show that show even marked crosswalks can be dangerous as the pedestrians can have a false sense of security that vehicles will stop. What would be illegal, and what’s yet to be determined, if the victim went out into traffic with no way for the traffic to stop. You can’t just walk out into an uncontrolled intersection expecting the traffic to stop. Also pedestrians need to be aware of conditions when they are out and about. I know that drivers have a difficult time seeing at night, and especially in the rain, and wearing light colored clothing and even having a red umbrella would be helpful. I even take along a flashlight in the winter so it’s more obvious where I am (also helpful since there are a lot of dark streets in my neighborhood.)

          • Rick

            You can replace “pedestrians” with “arlingtonians” throughout your comment. Everyone behaves and follows signals in every other city i’ve been to.

          • Beledy

            Thank you! I was just about to make the same comment. Arlington drivers seem to have NO idea that pedestrians have the right of way at most intersections, regardless of whether there is a cross-walk marking. I would love to see an educational campaign about that.

          • Zoning Victim

            I’d love to see the law changed. The roads in Arlington that have posted maximum speed limits of 35 MPH are far too unsafe to have pedestrians crossing at intersections without crosswalks or at least traffic lights. Anyone attempting to cross Lee Hwy anywhere that doesn’t have crosswalk is putting their own life at risk. Plus, the law is somewhat ambiguous; how can a pedestrian have right-of-way in the true sense of the word and still have to comply with the following provision: “No pedestrian shall enter or cross an intersection in disregard of approaching traffic?”

            The provision about what the vehicle has to do in yielding right-of-way is pretty interesting, too: “The drivers of vehicles entering, crossing, or turning at intersections shall change their course, slow down, or stop if necessary to permit pedestrians to cross such intersections safely and expeditiously.”

            So in other words, when someone doesn’t bother to slow down because they know they can beat you through the intersection, even if they get close enough to you that it scares you half to death, are not breaking the law?

          • Beledy

            There may be room to clarify the law, but in essence I think it is generally an appropriate one. There are many, many places where it makes sense and should be enforced. For example, I cross Pershing Dr. every day where pedestrians should have right away. And there are a number of us commuting by foot to the metro and Ballston-Clarendon jobs, but drivers never stop at intersections except the rare ones that are marked. It’s really a pretty straightforward matter to stop for pedestrians on a two-lane road such as Pershing, and would be silly to demand that cross-walks be painted at every intersection. And it would definitely enhance safety if drivers were of the mindset that they are responsible to look for pedestrians and stop.

            Where I do agree that the law could be considered for a change is streets with 4 or more lanes of traffic. It’s pretty difficult to coordinate that many cars stopping, so it might be appropriate to require pedestrians to cross at marked intersections.

  • Steve

    My life savings on the driver having an automatic transmission.

    • drax

      It’s not even remotely amusing any more, Steve.

      • novasteve

        Yes it is, becaucse automatics enable incompetent people to drive.

        • Josh S

          Dang, things must really be sad in the ol’ novasteve self-esteem department if he takes pride for driving a stick-shift…..

        • drax

          You’re really strange, Steve.

    • Charlie

      I’m with Steve. Auto tranny breeds ignorance of the road and road conditions. It is the reason we have traffic jams and most accidents. People o not pay attention because they not have to — it is automatic after all.

      • drax

        So distractions in your car make you pay attention better?

      • Dia

        Also, add cruise control, and the automatic car takes care of the gas pedal! All a person needs to do is pilot the car and apply the brakes when necessary.

  • TGEoA

    There is no crosswalk at that intersection. There are 2 crosswalks east and west, however only the western one has a control light. The one east really needs a signal, because the rehab center residents have to play chicken crossing to Safeway.

    • Steamboat Willie


      There actually is a crosswalk there. You can do the Google Maps street view and see for yourself. And there’s even a pedestrian in the crosswalk in the Google photo, which is kind of hilarious.

      • TGEoA

        There is no crosswalk where the accident occurred. I saw the leftovers last night when I drove by.

        • Steamboat Willie

          My bad TGE. I read your post as suggesting that there wasn’t a crosswalk at the rehab center. My guess is that even had the wheelchair been in the crosswalk, the driver would not have seen him, not stopped, or both.

          • TGEoA

            That x-walk by the rehab center is one that needs a signal. Some of the old-timers that want a little independence and go to Safeway by themselves have to brave that crossing. Sometimes I’ve walked across with them just to block traffic.

            Folks come flying down that hill going 50mph all the time.

  • novasteve

    I’ve noticed that people (other than county vehicles) will yield/stop to you ONLY if there are one of those signs in the middle of the road stating cars must yield to pedestrians. They have these on the intersection of Barton and Pershing and people stop, but by courthouse metro, they will not stop and there are none of those signs.

    • Kel

      That only helps some of the time – there is a crosswalk on Quincy & 9th st N where it seems very few people stop. I’ve had cars behind me blow their horns and/or try to slide around me when I stop for pedestrians. The cross walk in front of the central library isn’t much better.

  • Michael

    The way I understand the law in Virginia, where a sidewalk meets an intersection, that is a crosswalk whether it is marked or not. A pedestrian has the right to use that as a crosswalk as long as the speed limit is not over 35 MPH and they are not disregarding oncoming traffic. So you may wish this person went to the marked crosswalk (and I’m guessing so does the victim) but he has every right to cross the street where he did.

    • drax

      Would like to see that law.

  • Michael

    Here you go: § 46.2-924. Drivers to stop for pedestrians; installation of certain signs; penalty.

    A. The driver of any vehicle on a highway shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian crossing such highway:

    1. At any clearly marked crosswalk, whether at mid-block or at the end of any block;

    2. At any regular pedestrian crossing included in the prolongation of the lateral boundary lines of the adjacent sidewalk at the end of a block;

    3. At any intersection when the driver is approaching on a highway or street where the legal maximum speed does not exceed 35 miles per hour.

    • Thes

      Very helpful. Thank you.

    • drax

      Interesting, thanks.

      Of course, drivers need to yield to any pedestrian in any part of the street for any reason, simply because you can’t just run over someone even if they shouldn’t be there.

      • CW

        I think the “dark”, “dark”, “streetlights out”, and “dark” parts probably complicated this particular situation where a driver was definitely not expecting to come upon someone. Not to say that a driver should not always be alert.

      • Jason S.

        This is part of the problem. A driver should be sent on their merry way without trouble for hitting a person illegally crossing and the person hit (or their estate) should be liable for damage to the vehicle. People in Arlington are such selfish asses that they rely on the morals of others because they are too damned precious to follow the law.

  • Whitney Wilson

    Hopefully the person is – or will be – OK..

    While I can understand trying to take the shortest route – I do it myself – a pedestrian has to be aware of the fact that on a dark rainy night, you can’t expect a car to see you, regardless of whether you are in a cross-walk or not. The pedestrian has be super cautious. If you can’t move quickly (not sure about the gentlemen in question here), you really need to think about crossing with the light.

  • Mr. Brown

    Is there any way we can blame this on a bicyclist or ACPD?

    • drax

      It’s the fault of any Democrat who happened to be within 100 yards of the incident.

  • Andy

    I rolled by the scene just afterward (before first responders), traveling eastbound – the combination of glare from the wet pavement and the shadows created by the side of the Safeway building would have made it impossible for a motorist traveling westbound to have seen anything without flashing lights in the road.

  • ^ Is a Nob

    The wheelchairee was clearly asking for it. Wantonly speeding into the crosswalk when the walk light was ON just like those ne’er-do-well bicyclists (and pedestrians)! A ticket citation (to the injured) by Arlington’s finest should definitely be considered, I mean the nerve of blocking a busy street? Even if you’re in a wheel car, other people have places to go! Crippled people, invalids, and war veterans beware — Arlington County will no longer mollycoddle you! (Sorry, I don’t really mean any of this, but as a biker / pedestrian, I thought it was appropriate to bring the tone of other comments to this incident as well). Enjoy!

  • Some Facts

    In addition to the rehab center, there is also senior housing right there (Hunter’s Park) at Nelson and Lee (across from the Safeway, even with the back of its parking lot–same building as Dunkin and the mattress store). There is no crosswalk at the senior center, so many of its residents (many of whom have trouble walking or use wheelchairs) will try to cross where their building is, rather than walk all the way down to a crosswalk that no one stops at anyway.

    A light is really needed at Nelson and/or Monroe.

  • Charlie

    All these fancy crosswalks in 22201 and lee highway s the ugly stepsister that don’t get nuttin.

  • roquer

    So, one guy crosses, illegally in a short manner and the County is supposed to change the road? Would it be ok while we’re changing the road that the County mandate the 10 foot poles with little blaze orange flags on top so cars can see people?
    Did the person at fault get a ticket for Fail to Yield ROW? Or at least get held at fault in the accident? Otherwise, the vehicle driver will feel terrible for a long time and wrongly believe the accident is her fault.
    Stop with these stupid crosswalks! They give people the false confidence to step, wheel, walk out in front of speeding cars. Your momma taught you to stop for cars. Do so!
    Stop trying to change driver’s behavior for pedestrian’s actions.

  • Pedro

    When I stop for someone in the crosswalk the car behind me goes around and just misses the person crossing the road. It happens so often it is a miracle no has been killed yet. The ACPD seems to have little concern for the problem.

  • Matt B

    “It is simply human to take the shortest distance whenever possible.”

    No need to make excuses for stupid and illegal behavior. I am all for making Arlington more pedestrian friendly but the pedestrians need to start observing the rules in this county.

    The county could do a better job of giving out tickets, both for drivers who don’t yeild to crosswalks AND pedestrians who jaywalk.

    • Lou

      Don’t hold your breath waiting for Arlington to do anything punitive to pedestrians or cyclists who flaunt the law.

      • Actually…

        You mean *flout* the law.

      • CW

        If they run out in the middle of the road waving paper copies of the statutes, thus distracting drivers and causing accidents, then I bet the county would do something punitive to these individuals flaunting the law.

  • Sam

    I’ll reserve my judgment until all the facts come out but one interesting point to note is that it is said that the driver might not have been exceeding the posted speed limit. However, VA code 46.2-861 doesn’t appear to have been addressed yet.

    A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who exceeds a reasonable speed under the circumstances and traffic conditions existing at the time, regardless of any posted speed limit.

    Even if the driver was doing the speed limit or just under, was the driver operating her vehicle at a speed considered safe for the hazardous conditions (rain, dark, lack of street lights)?

    I also don’t know the area too well, but looking at Google Maps, but is this location? http://maps.google.com/maps?q=safeway&hl=en&ll=38.896449,-77.106197&spn=0.000904,0.001125&sll=38.896386,-77.106179&sspn=0.000904,0.001125&vpsrc=6&t=h&radius=0.04&hq=safeway&z=20&layer=c&cbll=38.896478,-77.106309&panoid=0GqVmJ0HyKRLiFhrOuJ5Ww&cbp=12,107.99,,0,32.82

    If so, that appears to be a valid unmarked crosswalk (curb cut is present) and must be treated as a crosswalk according to VA law. If that’s not the location that the pedestrian was hit, can someone provide more info?

  • mickey644

    1. A crosswalk does not make the person any smarter
    2. Did he receive a ticket for jaywalking?
    3. Did he learn something?
    4. I hope he had insurance

  • JimPB

    The salfety of residents and visitors when on foot (or in a wheelchair) should be paramount.

    What would the local residents, who know this (their) area, and who I’m sure have knowledge and wisdom to bring to bear, too, recommend to maximize safety?

    • Steamboat Willie


      I would suggest enforcement of the pedestrian right of way in crosswalks by ticketing drivers who don’t yield/stop.

      • Jason S.

        How about ticketing people who aren’t crossing legally? After all, this genius was not even in a crosswalk. The driver deserves compensation for repairs to their vehicle.

        • Steamboat Willie

          Sure. That too. But in my observation of the area in question, there are far more drivers in violation than there are pedestrians.

          • Michael

            I posted a while ago about what a crosswalk is in Virginia, an intersection does not have to marked for it to be a crosswalk. It’s amazing so many of you have assumed that the victim was jaywalking because he wasn’t in a “marked” crosswalk. It appears most of you don’t understand the law, but are pretty quick to judge the legality of what went on here.

          • Jason S.

            It’s quite clear in the article that he was not in a crosswalk.

          • Michael

            The article quotes a witness, who does not understand what a crosswalk is. He is in a crosswalk. Let me post the law one more time: § 46.2-924. Drivers to stop for pedestrians; installation of certain signs; penalty.

            A. The driver of any vehicle on a highway shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian crossing such highway:

            1. At any clearly marked crosswalk, whether at mid-block or at the end of any block;

            2. At any regular pedestrian crossing included in the prolongation of the lateral boundary lines of the adjacent sidewalk at the end of a block;

            3. At any intersection when the driver is approaching on a highway or street where the legal maximum speed does not exceed 35 miles per hour.

            Again, a crosswalk does not have to be marked to be a crosswalk.

          • Elle Kasey

            @Michael So you have determined he was at an intersection? That is not in the post. Rather, it says he was crossing from the back of Safeway to Oakland on the diagonal.

            A not-visible for conditions person in an invisible crosswalk – sounds like something that would happen at Hogwarts!

          • Undereducated

            Michael, you should include the entire Statute. Here it is in its entirety. Pay extra close attention to B. Also, be aware that Virginia is a Contributory Negligence state.

            § 46.2-924. Drivers to stop for pedestrians; installation of certain signs; penalty.

            A. The driver of any vehicle on a highway shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian crossing such highway:

            1. At any clearly marked crosswalk, whether at mid-block or at the end of any block;

            2. At any regular pedestrian crossing included in the prolongation of the lateral boundary lines of the adjacent sidewalk at the end of a block;

            3. At any intersection when the driver is approaching on a highway or street where the legal maximum speed does not exceed 35 miles per hour.

            B. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection A of this section, at intersections or crosswalks where the movement of traffic is being regulated by law-enforcement officers or traffic control devices, the driver shall yield according to the direction of the law-enforcement officer or device.

            No pedestrian shall enter or cross an intersection in disregard of approaching traffic.

            The drivers of vehicles entering, crossing, or turning at intersections shall change their course, slow down, or stop if necessary to permit pedestrians to cross such intersections safely and expeditiously.

            Pedestrians crossing highways at intersections shall at all times have the right-of-way over vehicles making turns into the highways being crossed by the pedestrians.

            C. The governing body of Arlington County, Fairfax County, the City of Fairfax, the County of Loudoun and any town therein, and the City of Alexandria, may by ordinance provide for the installation and maintenance of highway signs at marked crosswalks specifically requiring operators of motor vehicles, at the locations where such signs are installed, to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians crossing or attempting to cross the highway. Any operator of a motor vehicle who fails at such locations to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians as required by such signs shall be guilty of a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of no less than $100 or more than $500. The Commonwealth Transportation Board shall develop criteria for the design, location, and installation of such signs. The provisions of this section shall not apply to any limited access highway.

            (Code 1950, §§ 46-243, 46-244; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-231; 1962, c. 471; 1968, c. 165; 1972, c. 576; 1976, c. 322; 1989, c. 727; 2000, c. 323; 2002, c. 327; 2004, c. 658; 2007, c. 813.)


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