By David Bolling
A 72-year-old Sonoma artist remains in a critical condition in a Sacramento hospital after a collision with a 13-year-old boy on the Broadway sidewalk outside a frame shop on Nov. 28.
Wendy Mitchell had parked her car by the curb in front of The Framery at 762 Broadway and was standing outside her car talking to Framery owner Scott Sherman when the youth approached, riding his bicycle on the sidewalk at a speed investigating officers later estimated at less than 14 miles per hour. Sherman, who witnessed the accident, said the bicyclist was not riding recklessly but appeared to be traveling about 17 miles per hour. Three cypress trees planted in the space between the sidewalk and the curb blocked visibility in the direction the cyclist was riding and as the youth approached Mitchell stepped into his path.
The cyclist swerved to miss Mitchell and collided with a planter beside the sidewalk, police said after an extensive investigation. The rider did not come off the bicycle, a fact police said indicated he was not riding at a dangerous or excessive speed. It is unclear whether the rider struck Mitchell or she simply fell backward, but she may have collided with his helmet before going down and striking her head on a concrete pathway or the edge of the curb and lost consciousness. The bicycle rider immediately called 9-1-1 on his cell phone and waited for police to arrive. Despite the reports of citizens not present at the scene, police determined there was adequate daylight left at the time of the accident for visibility to not be affected by darkness. They concluded the cyclist, who was riding without a light, was not required to have one and questioned whether a light would have made any difference in the outcome of the encounter.
Officers subsequently tested the young man’s bicycle, riding it as hard as possible in the gear it was in at the time of the accident and timing it with a calibrated radar gun. An experienced officer could not get the bike to go faster than 12 to 14 miles per hour.
Mitchell was transported by ambulance to a Santa Rosa hospital and was subsequently transferred to a Sacramento trauma unit where she reportedly remains in a coma. Sonoma police concluded that the bicyclist was not to blame for the accident and in fact behaved responsibly by remaining at the scene and immediately calling police.