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San Juan man struck in crosswalk collision recovering from head injuries at Bellingham hospital
Editor's Note: This update corrects a previous story stating that Aaron D'Errico had returned home.
A San Juan Island man who was struck by a SUV early Friday evening while crossing a sidewalk in Friday Harbor on his motorized wheelchair is recuperating from head injuries at a Bellingham hospital.
Aaron D’Errico, 32, was in a crosswalk at Second and Spring streets when he was struck by the driver of a Chevy Tahoe, who, according to Sheriff Rob Nou, was making a left turn from Second Street onto Spring Street at the time of the collision.
Nou said the following day that the collision is under investigation.
"There were quite a number of calls and lots of witnesses,” Nou said. “The facts should be pretty clear, but were still making sense of it all and there’s some people we haven’t spoken to yet that we need to.”
As of Tuesday, D'Errico was in pain and suffering from nausea, which, according his mother, Cynthia Elliot, who remains at his bedside, is probably associated with swelling of the brain. He was unable to leave his hospital bed, she said.
Elliot said her son was assisted by a physical therapist and a "walker" when he took several steps the day before. Doctors at St. Joseph's Hospital believe that the swelling is likely the result of compounding head trauma, in which the crosswalk collision aggravated injuries that D'Errico suffered at an early age.
D'Errico faces at least one week of intense physical therapy after he is stable enough to be transferred to a rehabilitation center, Elliot said.
Based on a preliminary report, Nou said the driver, a 46-year-old Friday Harbor man, apparently had been at a full stop and was making a slow, gradual left turn in the intersection at the time the collision occurred.
The man stopped immediately after the collision, he said.
D’Errico, a noted illustrator, was thrown from his wheelchair and suffered injuries to his head as a result of the impact, Nou said.
He was treated at the scene by paramedics moments after the collision, which occurred at about 5:20 p.m., and then flown off-island for treatment and also as a precaution for possible head trauma.
Nou said that pedestrians have the right-of-way when they are in a crosswalk, in general.He noted, however, drivers and pedestrians “have a duty to exercise due care” in using public right-of-ways.
Nou said authorities will determine if charges or citations are warranted after the investigation is complete. — Scott Rasmussen