Family wants sidewalks changed after man with disability killed by vehicle

Bobby Smith

A driver hit and killed 53-year-old Bobby Smith, Jr. Wednesday on the corner of 20th Street and Madison Avenue.

Witness Cathy Gibson said the motorized scooter he was riding shattered.

"When it broke, it sent him flying, and it happened right here," Gibson said, pointing across the street from her home.

Gibson said Smith's two kids saw it happen.

She rushed to his side, and tried to help while EMS rushed in.

“I stood there with him, talked to him, and told him to take slow deep breaths," she said.

Smith later died at the hospital from his injuries.

Two of his nieces were stunned by the news.

"You just leave one day, and he's not there to come back. Ever again," niece Alecia Kay said.

Kay said her uncle was a great man who had cerebral palsy.

He died heading to church.

"He was OK, and then, next thing you know he was gone, just like that," niece Brittany Hale said.

Smith's family said accessible sidewalks could have kept him out of the street.

On one side of the street, the curb plunges into a foot-wide trench, and the other is 3 feet higher than the road and accessible by stairs.

Hale wants that changed.

"There is no path that's safe for a regular walking person now, so how? How was he supposed to get to church safe that day?" Hale said.

Bryan Chambers, Huntington communications manager, said sidewalk repair has been a priority in recent years with a $100,000 investment last year, another $100,000 budgeted this year, and three large scale sidewalk projects approved Monday by city council.

Every replaced sidewalk is made compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act to avoid situations just like this.

Smith's family said that intersection should be the very next project on the list.

"We're not stopping,” Hale said. “We're not going to give up. I'm not going to give up. Something has to be done."

The driver who hit Smith was not cited at the scene. She told police she couldn’t see Smith in the rain and darkness.

Chambers said the city is sending its deepest condolences to the family.

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