Abbie Sweatt, a Keene State College senior who was hit by a car on April 20th, has been released from the hospital and returned home.
Sweatt sustained serious injuries as a result of the accident. According to her mother, Lori Sweatt, Abbie has a skull fracture along with other injuries. Abbie spoke of her current condition after she had been released.
“I would say that I’m in rough shape for sure, but I’m doing better now that it’s been about a week,” Abbie said.
Abbie said that she does not remember the accident, but only recalls leaving her job the Child Development Center and the last thing she remembers is seeing the Keene State College arches as she walked toward the street.
KSC junior Alexandra Kalogeris witnessed the accident and ran to help Sweatt. She said the accident shows that daylight doesn’t mean that pedestrians are safe crossing the street and something needs to be done to make the crosswalks safer for students.
“It’s terrible. What scares me is that it happened at two o’clock in the afternoon when it was bright out, so what can happen at night when it’s dark?” Kalogeris said.
Kalogeris said that she and her friends have had close calls crossing the streets around campus. “I would never want that to happen to anyone. It’s so sad, she was just an innocent girl walking across the street. All I could think about when it happened was, ‘that’s someone’s child,’” Kalogeris said.
Lori said she has not been in contact with the woman who allegedly hit Abbie.
As a result of the incident the medical bills are stacking up, money is being raised to help pay for expenses. Robin Mathews has set up a GoFundMe page, which has circulated social media networks and has raised over $4,000 for Abbie.
Students are also taking the initiative to keep future pedestrians from getting hit while crossing the street. Unlike the crosswalks that are found on Winchester Street near campus, the crosswalks on Main Street, including the one by Elliot Street where Abbie was hit, do not include caution flashers, speed bumps or an island in between the four lane road. As of May 1, members of the KSC Advocates for Healthy Communities collected three hundred signatures on a petition, which will ask for safer walkways in the area. The group has also been selling necklaces and raffle tickets for t-shirts. All proceeds are going to go toward Abbie’s medical bills. They plan on writing a letter to city councilmen urging them to improve the safety of the crosswalks.
[We’re] basically asking them to put this issue higher on their priority list and do something about [it]….whatever that means to keep the drivers and the walkers safe, and ensuring the safety aspect in the town,” said Advocates for Healthy Communities member Siobhan Fuller.
Lori said she is grateful for the support the KSC community has given her daughter since the accident.
“We are overwhelmed by the support that the Keene State College community has given us,” she said. “People have gone way above and beyond,” Lori said.
City Council member Stephen Hooper said that discussion revolving around the safety of the crosswalks. Hooper teaches a class for the CALL program in the fall and said that crossing main street to get to the Alumni center and crossing the four-lane road isn’t something that he doesn’t always feels safe about.
“Every time I cross I kind of shudder and so I experience it myself,” Hooper said.
Hooper noted that as of May 2, he was not aware of any formal proposals to make the crosswalks on Main Street safer, but added that the discussion about their safety is an important one.
“Certainly from my point-of-view as a member of the council I would want to see this discussed further and I would support that,” Hooper said.
Dean of Students Gail Zimmerman said she is in regular contact with Abbie’s family and professors to minimize the impact the accident has on her academic future. According to Zimmerman, Abbie will still graduate on time.
As for Abbie’s recovery, she faces a long road of surgery and recovery. She will be having reconstructive surgery on her knee and will be healing for the next six to nine months. She will be doing physical therapy to regain her mobility, and her mother said Abbie is looking to be at commencement on Saturday.
Those who know Abbie are pulling for her, confident that she will bounce back. “I think that she has this obvious determination,” said KSC Coordinator of Wellness Education Tiffany Mathews, who has worked with Abbie on a number of different projects and practicums. She said she hopes the safety of the walkways around the college improve to make sure something like what happened on April 20, never happens again.
Jacob Barrett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org