A woman in New Jersey suffered serious injuries on Thursday after falling through a six foot deep hole on the sidewalk. Police said the she was apparently distracted while using the cell phone, causing her to not notice the hole. The 67-year-old is currently in stable condition at a hospital.
Later reports came from her son that the woman is legally blind and diabetic. The son also disputed the early claim that his mother was calling someone, saying that he believed she was only looking at the phone to find out what time it is. Of course, he also expressed his relief and gratefulness that she didn’t die from the fall. At least one other witness, Martin Delgadillo, confirmed that version of the story. Delgadillo, who owns a barbershop in the area, says he saw the woman look at her phone for a minute before hitting the door and falling into the hole. Eventually, security camera footage came out confirming that it was only a glance before the incident.
Police say the woman fell through an access door near Acme Windows. The door was open because workers were repairing a gas line in the area. The Plainfield Fire Division immediately came to the scene to get her out.
Distracted driving has gotten increased attention across the country, but “distracted walking” is also slowly growing in focus among awareness groups. “We aren’t talking about bumps and bruises. These are people who are straining muscles, dislocating joints and breaking bones,” says Deborah Hersman, current chief executive of the National Safety Council. A 2016 report by The Wall Street Journal found that emergency room visits related to distracted pedestrians had increased by 124 percent between 2010 and 2014. Ohio, California, Florida, Texas and New York had about half of all pedestrian fatalities in the United States in that time span.