SK woman still critical after being hit in wheelchair

A South Kitsap woman remains hospitalized in Seattle nearly two weeks after being struck by a car while riding in her wheelchair last month.

Patricia J. Lange, 82, was still listed in critical condition Monday afternoon, according to a spokeswoman at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Lange was airlifted to the regional trauma center July 19 after being struck by a car while crossing Mile Hill Drive at Fircrest Drive around 6:30 p.m. in her motorized wheelchair.

According to Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Deputy Scott Wilson, the car that hit Lange was driven by a 43-year-old SK woman who “appeared to be doing everything she was supposed to be doing,” and that his office’s investigators so far believed that neither excessive speed nor alcohol was involved in the crash.

Port Orchard resident Andrea Goodwin, 23, who said she drove by the scene about an hour after the incident said she was not surprised to see an accident.

“It’s a dangerous hill,” Goodwin said, explaining that she drives past that intersection every day on her way to and from work. “There’s no light, and many people just aren’t paying attention.”

Five days prior to Lange being hit, another accident occurred at the same intersection, according to the Washington State Patrol.

In that incident a 46-year-old victim was struck at 11:20 p.m. July 15 by a Toyota 4Runner driven by a 16-year-old Port Orchard boy, and was also airlifted to Harborview Medical Center with serious injuries.

According to the trooper investigating the scene, the victim was intoxicated, and was crossing an unlighted intersection and was not in a crosswalk. Charges against the victim were pending following that incident.

Brandy Rinearson, a clerk with the City of Port Orchard’s Public Works Department, said the intersection of Fircrest and Mile Hill drives in not within the city limits, and therefore the decision about whether or not to put a crosswalk there would be up to the county.

Dusty Wiley, a traffic investigator with Kitsap County Public Works, said there are currently no plans to put in a crosswalk at that intersection.

“It would not be safe to have a crosswalk there without a traffic light,” Wiley said, explaining that it is never a good idea to have crosswalks at “mid-block crossings,” particularly those with middle turn lanes and in high-traffic volume areas.

“Two white lines on the road are not going to keep you safe,” he said.

Trooper Brian George, a spokesman for the Washington State Patrol, said according to state law motorized wheelchairs can be driven legally on roads. However, George said they cannot be in the vehicle lane, but must be contained in the pedestrian lane.

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