U.S. Marine Corps veteran Edwin Nelson, 65, was killed when his motorized wheelchair was hit by oncoming traffic earlier this week in Brockton. According to witnesses, Nelson was crossing in a crosswalk on Belmont Street, also known as Route 123, when a Hyundai Elantra driven by 26-year-old Frank Dernoga, of Taunton, crashed into his wheelchair. He was knocked off his wheelchair near the crosswalk and rolled into the street. He was taken to Good Samaritan Medical Center and was pronounced dead.
Nelson was living at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center which is located less than a mile away from the crash site. He was a Vietnam veteran with a spinal cord injury that led to the amputation of both of his legs. His son, Geoff Nelson, wrote that his father had been a part of research to help pioneer spinal-cord medicine over the past 36 years, along with many other spinal-cord injury patients at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Nelson’s fatal accident has drawn attention to safety issues for pedestrians on Belmont Street, especially for disabled veterans who frequent the notoriously busy street. A spokeswoman for the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Pallis Wahl, said that a treatment team including a doctor, nurse, and social worker, evaluates each patient on an individual basis to determine the necessary care and whether or not a patient needs to be escorted when outside of the facility. It was determined that Nelson was fit to be outside of the facility without supervision from an escort. Wahl said, “It’s a case-by-case basis.”
Some local residents believe that the disabled patients should always have an escort for their own safety given the circumstances of Belmont Street. One resident commented, “It is sad…I’ve seen the conditions of driving on Belmont Street. It’s atrocious.”
Police are reportedly reviewing surveillance video from a business close to the scene of the accident that captured the crash. There has not been any decision as of this week as to whether Dernoga will face charges.
If you have been injured in a Massachusetts car accident or involved in a pedestrian, wheelchair, or bike accident, it is in your best interest to contact an experienced Massachusetts lawyer.
Disabled vet killed in Brockton accident helped pioneer spinal-cord medicine, Taunton Daily Gazette, October 26, 2011
Military veteran killed in Brockton road crash, www.Boston.com, October 24, 2011
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