Today, Monique Porsandeh is making her first trip back to San Francisco since she was run over by a car and severely injured earlier this year.
Porsandeh, 26, was nearly killed as she walked through the Marina District where a driver plowed through the crosswalk, hitting her before speeding off. Eight months and many hours of rehabilitation later, Porsandeh can now walk -- and she's planning to walk right into City Hall today to ask San Francisco supervisors to make this city safer for pedestrians.
The plan is to briefly speak to the Board of Supervisors this afternoon, then head over to the Pedestrian Safety Committee again at 6 p.m where she will ask the city to fund more pedestrian safety projects that'll help improve visibility between motorists and pedestrians, including lighting up crosswalks.
She will also touch upon an investigative report by the Bay Citizen that revealed a large portion of local motorists responsible or suspected of vehicular violence are never actually prosecuted. San Francisco fares better than other Bay Area cities when it comes to prosecuting motorists, and according to the article, "San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón charged seven out of nine drivers, including one cyclist, found to be at fault in fatal pedestrian crashes his first year in office."
On Feb. 24, Porsandeh was walking at a crosswalk at Green and Fillmore streets when a dark-colored Honda Accord plowed through the walkway, hitting Porsandeh and another pedestrian. Both were knocked unconscious. Porsandeh, a research assistant at UC Berkeley, suffered a major brain injury as well as a shattered pelvis, broken back, shattered leg, and broken bones. She has no recollection of the accident, but later learned the driver sped off and hasn't yet been caught. The other pedestrian suffered non life -threatening injuries.
"The first aid responders at the scene didn't think she was going to make it," said Mahendra Prasad, Porsandeh's friend. "It's pretty miraculous that she's still around."
Porsandeh remained in coma for a couple weeks, then spent months lying in a hospital bed before being moved by ambulance to Southern California where her family lives.
Beyond the physical pain, Porsandeh has been dealing with the financial stress as well. Even with health insurance, Porsandeh is facing upwards of $100,000 in out-of-pocket medical and rehabilitation expenses. Those bills should be paid by the driver responsible for running her over, said Prasad. And that's the problem: To prosecute someone and receive restitution, the driver must be identified.
It doesn't just fall on the individual, but taxpayers, too. According to the findings by San Francisco Injury Center, a report often cited by pedestrian safety advocates, pedestrian injuries cost San Francisco taxpayers $15 million annually and make up 25 percent of all traumatic injuries.
Porsandeh's friends and family have set up a fund-raising websiteif you care to kick in some cash to help relieve her burden of high medical costs. If you can't support her financially, at least back her cause. You can start by slowing down and watching out for pedestrians.