COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - People are fighting for safety in Columbus after last month’s tragic death of William ‘WD’ Feeney, who died after being struck by a dump truck while crossing the street in his wheelchair.
“I couldn’t sleep for a couple of days,” said Helen Dowdell.
This is the case, especially because of her father.
“I was the caretaker of my father who was in a wheelchair,” she said.
She felt Uptown should be safer and more accessible for those with limited mobility, so they can too safely enjoy the area. She decided to do something about this.
“Instead of just having a concern and not addressing it, let me at least write a letter and see if I can get some interest or some other people who feel the same way,” Dowdell said.
She contacted Columbus City Council members, the Columbus city engineer, and even went so far as to write a letter to U.S. Congressman Sanford Bishop.
What she wants?
“If you can visualize a box there or an implement there with a handicap sign that would flash,” she said.
Also, Dowdell is calling for longer times for people to cross and a noise to signal it’s safe to travel across the street.
She said in her letter to Bishop that while there are signs warning drivers to pay attention to pedestrians and cyclists, there are not any to bring visibility to people in wheelchairs and no way to communicate that those with limited mobility may be taking extra time to cross the street.
Another way Dowdell said crosswalks can be safer is to consider the different vantage point of people in wheelchairs.
“We have a clear advantage of our fellow citizens who are in a wheelchair," Dowdell said. "They can’t make eye contact with a motorist like we do.”
And at the end of the day she said, even if you’re not in a wheelchair, you should still care.
“Handicapped individuals, disabled individuals, it’s our job to protect those people. It’s our duty." So we should care because we’re all in this together. And at any given point, your life can change.”
For information on how you can support this cause, email Dowdell here.