You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 4:39 p.m.

Man describes being struck by hit-and-run driver in downtown Ann Arbor

By Lee Higgins

For a moment Wednesday, Gerald Foster said he thought he was going to be killed when a driver who appeared to be talking on her cell phone accelerated toward his wheelchair in downtown Ann Arbor.

Foster and other pedestrians were crossing East Liberty Street in a crosswalk at the South Fifth Avenue intersection, heading north toward the restaurant Afternoon Delight. As Foster reached the center of the street, with his dog walking in front of him, a sport-utility vehicle turned west on East Liberty and Foster couldn't move out of its way.

"I just kind of froze," he said. "I knew it was inevitable. I thought this is my last minute on Earth and I looked her right in the eye, just prior to her hitting me and she had her hand up to her ear, talking, and she just slammed into me."

The SUV struck Foster's motorized wheelchair and right leg, he said. He was knocked to the street. His 2-year-old rat terrier Sarge was not hurt. Foster yelled and looked up at the driver, who "just hit the gas and took off," he said.

Witnesses rushed to Foster's aid and called 911 after the 3 p.m. accident. Foster refused medical treatment, but ultimately went to the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System on Thursday morning to be checked out because his body was aching, he said. Ann Arbor police later caught up with a 77-year-old Ann Arbor woman believed to be the driver of the SUV, a traffic crash report says. She told police she was "unaware of the crash," the report says, and "would have stopped if she had hit someone." The report also says, the woman "stated she was not on her cell phone, but did admit to being in the area of question."

Police said Friday they are seeking charges against the driver. is not identifying the woman because she hasn't been arrested or charged.

Prior to the collision

Foster, a U.S. Army veteran who volunteers at the VA hospital, has lived in Ann Arbor for two years and walks his dog downtown several times a day. Foster, 63, has been using a wheelchair for the past couple of years because of medical conditions, including arthritis and respiratory problems. He's aware of the dangers pedestrians face, particularly those using wheelchairs or walkers.

"I've had many close calls," he said. "And 90 percent of the time, it's people on cell phones that aren't paying attention."

Foster said the woman who struck him also appeared to be distracted by another driver prior to turning onto East Liberty. The woman was honking and making a hand motion at a driver who turned the wrong way on South Fifth Avenue, he said. Foster said he is struggling to understand why the woman would leave the scene.

"I just can't imagine a person that doesn't have any conscience," he said.

Lee Higgins covers crime and courts for He can be reached by phone at (734) 623-2527 and email at


R. Ault

Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 3:30 a.m.

REGARDING THE CAR/PEDESTRIAN DISCUSSIONS Should we try to take advantage of the natural caution we all have learned regarding cars and pedestrians? Our mothers taught us we should avoid challenging the weight and speed of an oncoming car at a crosswalk whose driver is having to watch for you (whether you're staying still or moving), a car or cyclist behind who may not see you, a cyclist alongside who may not stop for the light, the changing light itself, and unfortunately a distracting conversation on their cell phones. Is it still sensible to avoid stepping into the crosswalk unless one has the light and the crosswalk is not being approached by a turning car? Are there ways our crosswalks and cars be made easier and safer for pedestrians and drivers? Could our city crosswalks had more intensive and distinctive graphic painting so both drivers and pedestrians are more strongly reminded of their responsibilities? Could all new cars were required to have an integral, hands-free phone system and the use of hand held cell phones in those cars outlawed? Could all new cars had a lockup system for the driver's door (actuated by a rear looking sensing device) which forced the driver to look into their side mirrors before getting out and thus avoid knocking a cyclist off their bike and into the oncoming traffic? Could for the handicapped pedestrian the city roller brushed a path through the snow on our downtown sidewalks and then cleared the mounds of snow (left by the city snowplows at crosswalks) allowing passage and safer crossing of streets (particularly for those in wheelchairs and on canes)? Unless safer, easier access to our city streets and crosswalks can be maintained and improved will use of Ann Arbor's downtown and stores be lost to outlying shopping centers who manage the snow, rely upon common sense deference between drivers and pedestrians where the driving and walking is easier? R. Ault, Courthouse Square


Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 6:38 a.m.

Can we please take this article down. I can't standing looking at that picture every time I come to this site. Lets move on, its not the crime of the century. Its not like he servived a plane crash. We get it, a confused elderly lady tapped him with her car. MOVE ON!!!!!!!!!!


Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 5:40 p.m.

Stop looking then


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 11:29 p.m.

STAY OFF the cellphones when u drive.

Kai Petainen

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 10:47 p.m.

this man is lucky that was there to see it. who knows how often this sort of stuff happens without news nearby.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 5:44 p.m.

well, well...I am glad to see the disparaging remark made against Gerry removed! It did take what 3 or 4 rebuttals against the blogger before a moderator stepped in! Way to go were on the ball with this one...just not in the same court as everyone else...and Sarge has a Pupcake coming!

5c0++ H4d13y

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 7:20 p.m.

Just FYI, people that leave comments at web sites are not &quot;bloggers&quot;. A common mistake made by commenters here. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 5:46 p.m.

and Sarge isn't even a potcake! <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 2:15 p.m.

I can't even believe how many times we have almost been in close call accidents because of people on their cell phones! No cell phone use while driving needs to become a law.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 2:01 p.m.

So she remembers that she wasn't on the phone at the time that she didn't hit him? Hmmm ...

Usual Suspect

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 11:22 p.m.

It's not her responsibility to do that, it's the prosecution's responsibility to do that. None of us are required to assist the government in making their case against us.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 10:21 p.m.

Maybe she knows she doesn't use her phone while driving. Or maybe she doesn't even have a cell.

John Q

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 4:16 p.m.

Or lying. Most criminals don't cop to their crime.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 3:54 p.m.


Terry Calhoun

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 12:50 p.m.

When my grandfather, Rollie Bert Brown, Sr., had a heart attack at age 55 in 1954, he gave up his driver's license and never drove again because he did not want to be responsible for what might happen if he had another attack while driving. How different that is from the Ann Arborites I see constantly talking on the phone or even texting while driving. I see several near-accidents a day from that and am still chilled at seeing a pedestrian missed by inches last month by a driver at Main and Hill talking on a cell and running a stoplight. I'm glad Gerald is okay, especially as a fellow vet, and now that I know his name hope I see him again so we can talk. Which brings me to this: Why can't we as a community use our real names when we post here? Why can't the Ann Arbor News-in-disguise require us to? It might slow down the commenting, but it sure would clean it up and perhaps require less of the &quot;moderation&quot; that doesn't seem to be quite right (from the outside) on some threads.

Usual Suspect

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 11:38 p.m.

Terry, it's because the Internet is not a safe place, and for those of us who have children in our homes it would not be responsible to have our comments lead to our home address. I know some say, &quot;I use my real name and it has never happened to me.&quot; My response is: &quot;Yet.&quot; Don't bother with the, &quot;If you're polite you have nothing to worry about,&quot; because the reality is that has nothing to do with it. Unstable people who do these things are set off by differing opinions, evne polite ones, or who knows what else. They're unstable - it's not going to make sense to the rest of us. What Mike said it also true - if you hold Ann Arbor-approved opinions, you're pretty safe. But if not? Well, just ask the local McCain supporter who had dog feces mailed to him during the last election.

Kai Petainen

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 10:55 p.m.

the part that is a bit creepy though... are the times when i've noticed that people countered the comments that i said with ideas that would only be known by certain people. those counter-comments... indicated to me, that there were folks out there that knew what i was talking about, but they did not have the courage to use their real name.

Kai Petainen

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 10:53 p.m.

long time ago, i made a conscious decision to post my real name. i wanted to speak about something real that had happened in ann arbor, and as my name matters to me... i had no problem with putting it out into the public eye. if i was to talk about serious events and use a fake name, i figured that it wouldn't be as effective. my thoughts have always been my thoughts and i do not reflect the opinion of where i may work. but they are my observations as an ann arborite living in ann arbor. by me placing my name out there, i wanted to give my experiences some credibility. sometimes people will bash me, but i'm ok with non-violent free speech. i had an important story that had to be told, and as i was a witness to that story, i felt it was important to give my voice a true name.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 10:20 p.m.

Robert, you may never say anything that is considered controversial. If you agree with the Ann Arbor party line, you wouldn't need to worry about it.

Marvin Face

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 8:34 p.m.

I agree 100%. Only real names, please. I always have!

Daniel Soebbing

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 5:39 p.m.

I agree. Distracted driving is a menace. I agree. People should post with their real names. I already get harassing anonymous phone calls from businesses and charities on a regular basis. I'm not all that scared of the people that read the comments section of this blog. I am, however tired of people that make all kinds of statements attacking public officials and private citizens in the comment section of this blog from behind the shield of anonymity.

Robert Granville

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 5:27 p.m.

Hmm... I always post with my full name and have not once ever received any kind of correspondence from anyone who saw my comment. Not through the mail, over the phone, by email or in person. Maybe people have better things to do Mike? If you can't stand behind what you say, you have no business making a comment.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 5:19 p.m.

It would also mean we may get harassing anonymous phone calls or visits from people that disagree with us.

Bob Krzewinski

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 5:11 p.m.

Gee, if people used their real names, that means they would be responsible in public about their statements.

Brian Kuehn

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 1:08 p.m.

Well said.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 12:48 p.m.

This doesnt make a lot of sense to me. They say the Jeep was accelerating and knocked him out of a wheelchair, but he refused medical treatment. So basically a Jeep hits a man in a wheelchair, knocks him out of the chair, does not slow down and in fact speeds up and he is not hurt other than aches and pains. Through all this, the Jeep did not run the man or the dog over? A two ton vehicle hitting his leg and wheel chair and neither are broken?


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 5:41 p.m.

Let me get this straight. Because the Jeep did not run over him or the dog. And he did not ask for medical help, and he only has aches &amp; pains. Something does not seem to add up ! I guess that all the people that saw this happen &amp; the man made all this up !! Thank God that she just clipped him and that he was in one of best wheel chairs ever made !! Other wise it could have been a whole different story !! Not to mention the fact that the MAN UPSTAIRS was watching over him and the dog ! And the lady !! One other thought, Have U seen the medical report from the ER ?? It was not just aches and pains !! Your comments make me scratch my head. :(


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 4:38 p.m.

he was not the only pedestrian in the crosswalk...just the only one unable to &quot;run&quot;...out of the path of the vehicle

Jessica Webster

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 3:58 p.m.

It's actually pretty miraculous that Mr. Foster is ok. I ran out to call 911 when I saw him splayed out in the crosswalk immediately after the accident. There were several people at the scene who saw the car hit him and who were helping him back into his wheelchair, and three more who were running after the Jeep to get the license plate number and make and model.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 12:48 p.m.

this is an example of what is waiting at the corsswalks. people using cell phones are a big problem. some can do both. i have seen people yelling on the phone. like they got into an argument. i think cell phones should be banned when driving. yes i would stop using mine. i use it all the time. this will never happen in ann arbor!


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 5:47 a.m.

According to the December 7th article on the hit-and-run: &quot;A number of kids chased the Jeep west down Liberty, while police were called. The kids were able to get the Jeep's license plate number, he said, adding that he saw the vehicle serve around other cars and run a red light afterward.&quot; And from the article above: 'Ann Arbor police later caught up with a 77-year-old Ann Arbor woman believed to be the driver of the SUV, a traffic crash report says. She told police she was &quot;unaware of the crash,&quot; the report says, and &quot;would have stopped if she had hit someone.&quot; The report also says, the woman &quot;stated she was not on her cell phone, but did admit to being in the area of question.&quot;' It doesn't quite add up now, does it?

Usual Suspect

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 11:23 p.m.

Daniel, don't ever go to Florida. That describes most drivers down there.

Daniel Soebbing

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 5:25 p.m.

People that are unaware of their surroundings who swerve around cars and run red lights should not be allowed to drive. They are a hazard to everyone else around them.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 3:53 p.m.

Old people are often unaware of their surroundings. Doesn't surprise me.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 4:41 a.m.

I hope you and Sarge make a speedy recovery and enjoy the holidays!


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 1:11 a.m.

Glad to hear the Ann Arbor Police are pressing charges. Everything should come CLEAN after the wash. Not being a witness, I won't comment any further, other than happy to hear the man and his dog are OK.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 11:54 p.m.

This is apparently not the first time Mr. Foster has been victimized. The rat terrier is a breed recognized by the AKC. That dog in Mr. Foster's lap is not one of them.


Sun, Dec 11, 2011 : 5:26 a.m.

How sad; Mr. Foster and bwacker have both been victims of dog fraud. I hope Foster recovers well and they make a good example of the woman who hit him. Shame on her and her family.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 3:21 p.m.

I personally know Gerald and his wonderful dog: Sarge who indeed is a Rat Terrier. I also have a Rat Terrier and when Sarge and Toby get together- there is no doubt that they are the same breed. Gerald is a great guy and I'm so glad he's ok. We need more people like Gerald and more dogs like Sarge in this world.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 2:23 p.m.

Sarge sure does look like these rat terriers, doesn't he? <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Lynn Liston

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 5:23 a.m.

Looks a lot like a Manchester Terrier, also a lovely and companionable dog. Probably doesn't matter to Mr. Foster who very obviously loves his Sarge.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 4:23 a.m.

Bob - The commenter named 'quetzalcoatl' is suggesting that the person who sold the dog to Mr. Foster claimed it was a rat terrier when in fact it was not. A victim of fraud, in other words. Yes, you might claim that that is less important than being hit by a car. You are probably right.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 3:44 a.m.

But that dog is precious in his eyes.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 3:41 a.m.

What does that have anything to do with anything !! What are U even thinking !!! Are U saying that because his dog is not recognized by the AKC , he is a victim ??? Just so U know he adopted Sarge to save his life !! :) I just wonder what is wrong with people ,that they would even think about something like this !! Instead of whats really important !!


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 11:28 p.m.

More violations than conversations on this site, it seems.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 3:44 a.m.

U R right, makes me think !!! What are the saying !!!

Ron Granger

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 11 p.m.

Anyone found guilty of hit and run must be made an example of. It is the only deterrent we have against an offense that occurs far too frequently and typically ends very badly for the victim. While it's great that the man and his dog were not seriously injured, it likely means any charge will be a misdemeanor and not a felony. Phone records will show whether the driver was on her cellphone.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 10:46 p.m.

Just a reminder, That if she is charged, that does not by a long shot mean she is guilty of those charges. Now I know sometimes the guilty are found innocent in court, but it also goes the other way around. So it just seems obvious to withhold judgment on the woman in question until evidence is put forward and one can make an informed opinion. I work right at that intersection, and I am amazed at how aggressive and dangerous some cars drive downtown. Even if you're in a life and death emergency/hurry, that is still no excuse for not paying attention to your surroundings, or come to a complete stop. Whether it was this woman in question or someone else, if they are found guilty I really hope they are sentenced harshly, to hopefully stop this from happening in the future.

Usual Suspect

Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 11:15 p.m.

Or people running after her could have got the number not quite right. Several other explanations are possible. Or it could be her. That's what investigations are for.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 4:03 a.m.

@ justcurious - There could be more than one person who drives that car. Maybe her daughter? Or she lent it to a friend?


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 3:43 a.m.

&quot;Whether it was this woman in question or someone else, ......&quot; They traced her through her license plate number....I don't get your questioning of whether she was the one who hit him.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 10:36 p.m.

&quot;She told police she was &quot;unaware of the crash,&quot; the report says, and &quot;would have stopped if she had hit someone.&quot; &quot; This sounds familiar from a recent hit and run that didn't have as good an ending. I am so glad that Mr. Foster and Sarge are going to be alright. It's a shame that the people in his building are afraid to be on the streets. I don't like to drive in Ann Arbor anymore either.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 2:46 p.m.

Perhaps this 77 year-old woman's license will be revoked once the dust settles. Her one tip off confirmed she was in the area, but w/o the presence of an attorney, I reckon she chose to not admit to hitting a human being in a wheelchair and speeding off. I will be following this story closely. I'm glad Mr. Foster and his dog is ok.


Sat, Dec 10, 2011 : 3:56 a.m.

Although I`am upset with this woman,I think we all should pray for her !!! Stop her from driving &amp; make her pay for what she has done !! To the woman ! If U keep saying that U did not know that U hit him, the law will be even harder on U when U are convicted,and U will BE !!

Billy Bob Schwartz

Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 11:06 p.m.

Yeah. If you run over a man in a wheelchair and don't notice it, that's worse than knowing it, in my book. How out of it can a driver be that they can run a man in a wheelchair down and not notice? Likely story. Sounds like she didn't know what happened, so she gunned it and took off. Allegedly speaking, of course.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 10:32 p.m.

Hmm, OK I didn't realize I had violated the conversation guidelines...I will just say I am so relieved that Mr. Foster is getting medical treatment and that he and his 4-legged (so cute!) friend appear to be OK. I will also say I hope this story is updated when/if charges are filed. Thanks to all the witnesses/Good Samaritans that helped on the scene.


Fri, Dec 9, 2011 : 10:59 p.m.

Thank You !! And AMEN !!!