HAYWARD (KPIX) — Arthur Renowitzky waited several minutes for the signal to cross was flashing before he rolled his wheelchair into the intersection of B Street and Mission Boulevard in Hayward.
He wasn’t even halfway through the crosswalk when a Dodge Ram truck that was turning left onto Mission Boulevard slammed into him sending Renowitzky out of his wheelchair onto the hot pavement, the force so intense it knocked the shoes from his feet.
“I thought my life was over,” Renowitzky said. “Sent me flying, ended up rolling a couple times, went unconscious for a minute. That Dodge Ram grill is just embedded in my head.”
The accident, which happened around 2 p.m. on Aug. 7, was captured on Eden Jewelry’s surveillance cameras.
The shop’s co-owner, Allen Davidson, said the intersection is notorious for pedestrian accidents. He said just one day before Renowitzky’s incident, his cameras captured another man being hit and dragged by another vehicle.
“I call it ‘the Mission Le Mans’ — it’s an expressway for people,” Davidson said. “I’ve almost been hit a dozen times. People look at you — it’s like you don’t have the right of way in the crosswalk.”
In fact, as photographer Brian Yuen was recording video of Renowitzky, the pair watched as a pedestrian crossed the street. She barely cleared the lane she was in when two cars sped past her.
Davidson said he’s had a conversation with a city council member about installing a flashing speed limit sign.
Chuck Finnie, a spokesman for the city of Hayward, said in a statement that the city is making “pedestrian safety transportation improvements” in the area that includes Mission Boulevard and B Street, however “the particular intersection is not called out for improvements at this time.” Finnie went on to say there is an evaluation for “potential safety improvements that could be carried out in the short term.”
Renowitzky’s attorney, Jade Smith-Williams, said changes and improvements need to be made by the city of Hayward before someone is killed.
“We are going to be pursuing litigation in this case on behalf of Arthur,” Smith-Williams said. “This is unsafe clearly. There’s no gray area here. We are imploring the city of Hayward to do something about the safety of this intersection. Arthur luckily survived his encounter the other day but the next person may not.”
Renowitzky, who is paralyzed from the chest down after being shot in a robbery, became a wheelchair basketball player after his injury. The footage of his accident shows him turning his chair at the very last second. He believes that’s what saved his life.
The Hayward resident, who was on his way to get a haircut before he was hit, is also an active member of the community. Renowitzky is the founder of the Life Goes On Foundation, which works to curb youth gun violence.
He said since the accident he’s received many messages from other wheelchair users who had also been hit by vehicles. It’s one reason he said he decided to speak about what happened so that he could advocate for the safety of wheelchair users when they’re in the streets.
“It was traumatizing. I’ve had life-changing situations before and this is another one of those things,” Renowitzky said. “Every time I cross an intersection, every time I go outside, there’s cars rolling by, I’m seriously traumatized.”