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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Red Ferarri vs. shuttle bus for the disabled: Gravelly Lake Drive fatalities

My brother is dying from end-stage liver disease and was denied a liver transplant, because he is too weak, medically too fragile to have any hope of surviving the rigors of transplant surgery. He has been denied shuttle service from Pierce Transit for months and is effectively house-bound unless he can find a good-hearted neighbor who will drive him to the grocery store or to church. We take him to as many appointments as we can and we go out to see him as often as possible.

April 2 while stepping off of a Pierce Transit bus (regular bus, not a shuttle for the disabled) the bus was too far from the curb and as my brother stepped down, his knees buckled and he fell, landing on his head on the concrete sidewalk also injuring his right shoulder and both knees. We have been working ever since to get Pierce Transit to reconsider their denial of shuttle service for him: bad enough that he is dying from liver failure, diabetes, and congestive heart failure, but then to land on his head on concrete could have hastened his death.

I baked a penne pasta dish in our Auntie Mae's old Corningware lasagna pan late this morning to take to my brother's home for a shared Sunday dinner today.

As we neared his home a few blocks off of Gravelly Lake Drive at about 1:15 p.m., we encountered an accident scene and a roadblock that forced us to detour off Gravelly Lake Drive. When we emerged south of the accident, we could see part of the crash scene: a shuttle bus for the disabled had been involved in the crash; it was off the roadway and into a hedge on the east side of Gravelly Lake Drive, not far from the entrance to Lakewold Gardens. Police were on the scene. There were no fewer than six other vehicles (mostly what appeared to be supervisors' vans) from Pierce Transit and TransPro at the scene.

We eventually worked our way around the side streets to find my brother's house over by American Lake and didn't think about the accident scene again until after we had left his home 4 and 1/2 hours later at 5:30 and we once again encountered the roadblocks and utility crews cleaning up after the accident scene; all the Pierce Transit vehicles were gone then.

I got out of the car and asked one of the workers who was cleaning up the crash site what exactly had happened. He related that a young man who lived in one of the lovely homes along Gravelly Lake Drive decided to take his red Ferarri out for a spin and wind it up to see how fast it would go. He said that a shuttle bus had been T-boned by the racing Ferarri and two people were killed. He described seeing the aftermath, and described the carnage as "...horrific. You just can't imagine."

I felt numb with shock and saddened by the loss of life while simultaneously feeling relief that my brother had not been aboard that shuttle bus today.


Stephanie Frieze said...

I am glad your brother was not on board the shuttle, but saddened that he is having trouble getting service. I am concerned about Pierce Countie's criteria regarding who does and does not get shuttle service.

I have a friend here in rural Pierce County, outside the city limits of Gig Harbor and far from a bus stop, who has diabetic neuropathy in her legs and feet and is losing her sight to the disease. She is legally blind and can hardly walk, but all Pierce Transit will do is take her to a Park and Ride to ride a regular bus. The routes they create for her to get to doctor appointments take hours and involve a legally blind woman limping painfully across parking lots. She too has reapplied, but even after she was put on disablitiy she was turned down.

Certainly your brother and my friend deserve Pierce County's Shuttle service to have something like an independent life.

EmeraldPrincessOnline said...

For Pierce Transit to have denied your legally blind friend access to the shuttle service is unconscionable, just as it is with my brother. My brother also has profound diabetic neuropathies affecting both of his feet (complete loss of sensation). The nearest bus stop is more than half a mile from where he lives. He can barely walk to his mailbox, let alone another half mile to a bus stop.

We have learned that Pierce Transit is in the process of re-certifying all of the disabled who use the shuttle service; chaos is the term being used to describe the in-house machinations.

Perhaps a class action lawsuit will become necessary.

Bray said...

we found your blog because we were looking around for information about our friend beth who was in that red ferrari. your page came up in a google search.

it's so odd that chance plays the way it does. i am really glad that your brother was not in that van. and that we have no other connection than a web page and some photos.
peace to you and your family and don't forget to tell folks you love them from time to time.

EmeraldPrincessOnline said...

Bray, I am saddened by your loss. It is a heartache that will never completely go away and the questions of 'why' and 'what if' will never be answered.

My whole world was shattered and my life put on an entirely different track following the tragic death of my cousin Kenny in a car versus train crash when I was 16. That was more than 40 years ago now and the pain of that loss, all those years ago, still brings tears to my eyes and a tremor to my voice whenever I speak of it.

You'll be in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you for writing.


Patty Cake said...

I am very saddened by this tragic accident as well as I knew the driver of the car

EmeraldPrincessOnline said...

Tell us about your friend who was killed...

Stephanie Frieze said...

Yes, please tell us.

Karen H. said...

I'm also glad your brother wasn't on board. Unfortunately, my elderly aunt was. She has since died from the injuries she sustained in the shuttle bus accident. To have lived for 83 years and then have something so senseless happen has been a shock. Since most of the rest of the family live in the northeast US, we didn't have any details about what happened and searching turned up your post.

Stephanie Frieze said...

Condolences from the West to you and your family, Karen. It matters not how old you are or your relative, losing a family member is heartbreaking especially if it seems so needless.

Shuttle Bus said...

Oh! That's really horrible. My heart goes out to you. Let's just pray for their soul. Thanks for sharing this story with us. Life is really short.