A woman is injured in a fall on an Omaha sidewalk. She uses an electric wheel chair to get around but encountered a curb that was too much to handle last week.
As more and more of Omaha’s city streets and sidewalks are being upgraded to meet A.D.A. standards, Verna Lenhoff's Wednesday afternoon trip to the dentist last week, served as a stark reminder of just how much work remains.
At 78-years-old, Lenhoff is starting to see the affects of growing older. Arthritis forced her to use a wheel chair.
"I would like to go out and get some fresh air while the weather is nice,” Lenhoff said.
But that doesn't mean she can't do things on her own, like use her chair to get to her dentist.
"I have to go out into the street because there is no ramp at the end of the sidewalk,” Lenhoff said.
However, in Lenhoff's neighborhood near 48th and L, not all of the sidewalks are easy to navigate. Still, nothing prepared her for a broken stretch of concrete sidewalk.
"I stopped and looked at it and I thought, ‘yes, I can make that’,” Lenhoff Said. “My wheel chair got stuck on one of these holes and just threw me.”
The fall cut her on the eyebrow; it took 7 stitches to heal. She also suffered severe bruising around her eye.
"It was pretty traumatic, I had a pool of blood around me," Lenhoff said. She was lying helpless in the street, cars passed her by.
"For several minutes, they slowed down and looked at me and I thought for heavens sakes, stop can't you see I’m hurt,” Lenhoff said.
Finally, Lenhoff was rushed to the hospital but she says what's frustrating is that she was forced to either navigate the curb or drive into traffic.
"So are we to go out into the street every time we go through a drive way and then get to the next safe corner? Is there a safe way? No," Lenhoff said.
According to the city attorney's office, the property owner is generally the one held responsible, but in Lenhoff's case, she'll file a complaint against the city. Omaha Public Works will then come out and investigate that claim, which includes Lenhoff's required medical attention.
Public Works says 48th street between L and Q is scheduled for a complete overhaul this summer. Those repairs will include re-doing and adding in A.D.A. compliant sidewalks.
Public Works also says they are in the middle of a multi-million dollar A.D.A. upgrade through the city. This includes installing new curb cuts.
The curb cut projects began Monday and run through the next week. Two areas will see a make over. The first is along Western Ave. between 72nd and 76th Street. There are multiple lane restrictions there. Construction is also happening along 36th Street between Dewey Avenue and Leavenworth streets. Both projects should wrap up in about a week.
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