If you are one of the millions of people glued to your smartphone and routinely exchange text messages while walking — or texting while driving — you may want to stop after watching this disturbing video.
A New Jersey woman is lucky to be alive after taking a leisurely stroll recently. Ordinarily, the site of a person texting while walking or driving isn’t something that is alarming enough to make the evening news — that’s until a tragedy occurs.
According to the Consumerist, a 67-year-old woman tripped into an opening on a sidewalk while appearing to be reading something — reportedly, text messages — on her mobile phone. Surveillance cameras captured the woman’s fall. Sources say she was not aware of the open access doors along the Plainfield pavement.
Footage shows at least two pedestrians appearing confused after the woman’s fall. Both exhibited confusion on how to react to what they had just witnessed.
Sources say emergency first responders arrived on the scene and assessed the woman’s injuries. After rescuing her from the utility room below, the unidentified woman was rushed to a local hospital for treatment. There, doctors listed her in “serious” condition.
Multiple sources reported that the woman fell 6 feet below the surface in front of Acme Windows on Somerset Street. By all accounts, the sidewalk doors were open while workers made repairs on a subterranean gas line.
Not surprisingly, social media users erupted in quip frenzy with the usual obligatory memes. Many charged that the footage should serve as a “hard lesson” to the many violators who text while walking, driving, or biking. However, there’s another element to the story that offers a different version of the accident.
CBS Local spoke to a man who identified himself as the woman’s son. He said his mother, who is “legally blind,” was not distracted by texting while walking, playing a game using an app, or face timing with a caller when she tripped into the sidewalk cellar. The woman also undergoes treatment for diabetes.
“When I first saw the video, my heart dropped. It was painful to watch,” the son said to reporters.
“She regularly takes on schedule her meals and checks her sugar. As far as I was told, when she was walking down the street, she felt a little nauseous in a sense, and looked at her phone to see what time it was.”
The man admonished the utility workers for not posting a sign, cone, or some other warning to notify pedestrians of the open cellar doors. Due to the woman’s illness, she has trouble discerning colors.
The woman is not suffering from life-threatening injuries, and her condition is stable at this time. “She may be hurt, but at least she’s alive,” the man said of his mom.
In related news, researchers say texting while walking is becoming dangerously common and accounts for a spike in personal injury accidents and fatalities. Experts say people are preoccupied with their electronic devices like never before and risk bumping into walls and other people, tripping and even falling. Healthline wrote that the “Pokemon Go” video game doesn’t make matters better.
Dr. Dietrich Jehle is a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Buffalo. In a 2014 press release, Dr. Jehle said people who text while walking have little control in “complex actions.”
“While talking on the phone is a distraction, texting is much more dangerous because you can’t see the path in front of you.”
In another study on the rising phenomenon, Ohio State University says about 1,500 people underwent ER treatments in 2010 as a result of injuries sustained while reading or sending text messages. While overall pedestrian injuries decreased since 2005, the statistic represents double the amount of text-message-related pedestrian incidents.
Jack L. Nasar, Ph.D., a professor and a co-author of the Ohio study, spoke bluntly about the rise in texting-while-walking-related accidents.
“Yes, they are a hazard to themselves and others, as their distraction makes it more likely that they may walk into someone else and knock them over.”
The New Jersey woman’s son said she was visiting from Florida and he plans to travel to be with her while she recovers from her injuries.
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