80-year-old blind man struck by car at ‘dangerous’ intersection

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(WWL-TV)  NEW ORLEANS – An 80-year-old blind man is in the hospital after he was struck by a car crossing a busy intersection. It happened at the crosswalk on St. Claude Avenue at Elysian Fields. Residents say that area is always dangerous.

Saturday around 5 p.m., Bill Neff, his wife Janet and his service dog Hank were crossing St. Claude Avenue at the crosswalk when a car failed to stop until it was too late. Witnesses say the driver said the sun was in his eyes. He stayed on the scene and was cooperating with police.

Charles Graves owns the Airbnb on Elysian Fields where the Neffs were staying. He said he’s horrified by what happened to the couple, who were visiting from Texas for a wedding.

“I don’t think I’d like to come to a city where I was mowed down by an automobile,” Graves said.

Bridget Wilson works at Gene’s Poboys and has to cross the street every day. She says it was only a matter of time before someone got hurt.

“Oh no, I wasn’t surprised, I knew it was going to happen,” Wilson said. “If I had seen it, I would have had a fit.”

Wilson says cars go too fast down St. Claude, often ignoring the crosswalk. Another concern is that cars turning right onto St. Claude from Elysian Fields have a green light, even though pedestrians are also walking across. Graves has had close calls himself.

“There have been a couple of times when I’ve really felt like they got a little too close before they saw me,” Graves said.

Now with one person in the hospital, residents are wondering how many more people will get hurt before drivers slow down.

“If they don’t get it straight someone is gonna lose their life right here on this corner and I hope to God that I won’t be out here,” Wilson said.

The city said they will send an official out to look at the intersection and see if more needs to be done to keep pedestrians safe. The victim is recovering and his wife said the two are already planning a “less dramatic” return trip to New Orleans.

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