Floyd Light student seriously injured by driver with foggy windshield

Although this particular investigation isn’t over yet, keep in mind three important driving tips – of which you’ll be reminded, by reading this article …

Picture a 12-year-old boy walking toward us within the crosswalk – when suddenly he’s hit so hard by a westbound car that his head cracks the windshield. It happened, right here, on January 9th.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Dark mornings, foggy windshields, and distracted drivers can turn an average morning’s commute into a tragic situation.

Anyone who frequently travels on SE Stark and crosses SE 108th Avenue – that’s where SE Washington Street splits off, heading westbound – has seen the well-marked pedestrian crosswalk at that intersection. Other alert drivers will have noted that Floyd Light Middle School’s parking lot starts just south of the intersection.

Split second of inattention nearly claims a kid’s life
That crosswalk was the scene of a heartrending, avoidable accident early on Wednesday, January 9.

About 7:30 a.m., a 12-year-old student at Floyd Light Middle School was heading to school. As he stepped into the crosswalk, walking south, toward his school, one westbound car stopped for him – as required by law.

But another driver, identified by police investigators as 63-year-old Dinh Van Mai, was also heading west, driving a 1990 Toyota.

He didn’t stop.

“The window in Mai’s car was fogged over,” Sgt. Brian Schmautz, Portland Police Bureau’s spokesman, told us. “The driver hadn’t taken the time to clear the fog off of his windshield. He was wiping it off at the time of the incident.”

Witnesses said the boy’s head cracked Mai’s windshield; emergency radio reports by paramedics stated that blood was flowing from the boy’s ears as he lay on the pavement.

The boy remained conscious, did remember being hit and was transported to Oregon Health and Science University with traumatic, but reportedly non-life-threatening, injuries.

The accident that took place at this crosswalk could have been avoided.

Lessons to be learned
We’re not releasing photos of the young man’s blood on the pavement.

And the only reason we’re bringing you a detailed report of the young man’s injuries is to draw your attention to the three situations that in this case will, forever, alter one young person’s life.

  1. Clear your vehicle’s windows before you start driving. A life may depend on your being able to see.
  2. Look out for pedestrians who may be in crosswalks. Legally, a crosswalk – whether or not it is marked – is at any street intersection.
  3. When a car is stopped at or near a crosswalk or intersection – think before you swerve and pass the “idiot” stopped there. That driver may well be yielding right-of-way to a pedestrian.

By the way, Mai remained at the scene and talked to police. Investigators say they will wait for the analysis from the collision reconstruction to make a final conclusion before issuing any citations.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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