77-year-old driver accused of hitting man in wheelchair then leaving scene
Betty Powell Chisholm of Ann Arbor was arraigned Thursday in 15th District Court on a misdemeanor charge of failing to stop at an accident.
She is out on a promise to appear. Her attorney, Joy Glovick, could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
An Ann Arbor police traffic crash report says Chisholm turned from South Fifth Avenue onto westbound East Liberty Street about 2:54 p.m. Dec. 7 and struck 63-year-old Gerald Foster with a Ford Explorer.
Foster of Ann Arbor, who was heading north in a crosswalk, was knocked from his motorized wheelchair to the street.
"I just kind of froze," he told AnnArbor.com in December. "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."
He refused medical treatment, but went to the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System the next morning because his body was aching.
Foster also has said that the driver who struck him appeared to be talking on a cell phone.
In the report, police said Chisholm "fled the scene" after the collision. A witness told AnnArbor.com in December that a number of children chased the SUV down East Liberty Street and were able to get the license plate number. The SUV swerved around other cars and ran a red light after the collision, the witness said.
An officer caught up with Chisholm at her home, the report says, and she said "she was unaware of the crash and would have stopped if she had hit someone."
"She also stated she was not on her cell phone but did admit to being in the area of question."
If convicted, Chisholm faces up to 90 days in jail. She is scheduled to return to court March 13.
Lee Higgins covers crime and courts for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached by phone at (734) 623-2527 and email at email@example.com.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 9:38 p.m.
wow...how about if a driver was turning left, northbound onto southbound 5th Ave., and the woman in the article was turning left onto E. Liberty....perhaps the pedestrians were blocked by the illegal northbound vehicle? I'm just saying there are so many variables here at play, the very least is innocent until proven guilty...or does that not apply to anyone that doesn't drive a Prius or ride a bike?
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 5:53 p.m.
I simply cannot believe that anyone would NOT notice that they hit something with their car. I sadly had a cardinal do a kamikaze dive into the front of my car the other day. I heard a soft thud and a poof of feathers shot over my hood. Really horrible. If she did in fact hit someone, allegedly, I would like to hear her explanation. I may have my phone in my car but I have it either in my back pocket where I can't hear it or reach it or in the glove compartment.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 9:40 p.m.
@nickcarraweigh...so true but Bishop's are fair game...?
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 9:15 p.m.
The sad disclosures of tragic molestations committed by priests have, of course, been horrifying. But I hardly think running down cardinals with your car is the proper response.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 3:38 p.m.
Where's all the "ban everyone over the age of 77" people? They certainly came out for the recent cell phone stuff.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 4:39 p.m.
Any posts that dared call the driver's age into question were swiftly deleted, which is why you don't see them.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 2:54 p.m.
Tony- I have to question when 7 sister newspapers team up to do an expose on cell phones and driving, and you write an opinion that says we need a new law, what makes these news reporting agencies different then any PAC. I can understand news stories and opinions, but banded together, and along seven different news outlets reporting in the same manner, annarbor.com (and those seven other news outlets) may have merely turned into a cell phone version of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 2:42 p.m.
"The woman was honking and making a hand motion at a driver who turned the wrong way on South Fifth Avenue, he said" Making hand motions AND using a hand-held cell phone? That seems like a lot of hands. Nobody got hurt. Let the courts handle it and move on.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 2:07 p.m.
Let's see, the guy in the wheelchair said he looked her in the eye. Multiple other people saw her driving erractically and running a red light. I don't believe for a minute that she didn't know she hit the man. They should check her cell phone records and if she was on the phone, they should also subpeona the person she was talking to. If she's lying, throw the book at her!
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 9:27 p.m.
what light? that intersection is a 3 way stop...
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.
If this was a young male, wouldn't the police have arrested, booked and fingerprinted him?
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 6:59 p.m.
Yes. Why would this person be treated differently?
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 4:29 p.m.
<a href="http://www.annarbor.com/about/annarborcom-conversation-guidelines-comment-moderation/">http://www.annarbor.com/about/annarborcom-conversation-guidelines-comment-moderation/</a> "Under our guidelines, we ask people not to interject race into the discussion when race is not an issue." That is, of course unless you are bagging on white people.
Elaine F. Owsley
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.
Along with whatever jail time is handed out, there should be a mandatory driver's exam and road test. Could be that this lady is just past the ability to drive safely and may need to be off the road.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 3:31 p.m.
Would everyone else get a mandatory driver's exam and road test if they allegedly hit a pedestrian? Unless this woman has some kind of awful driving history, why should she? Isn't it possible someone who's 77 is just some Type A jerk, and the situation has nothing to do with her age? Unless there are some extenuating circumstances that turn up here, I guarantee you that, if she's actually guilty, she's not getting any jail time for leaving the scene of an accident.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.
Again per A2.com's policy if the person is from Ann Arbor leave it out of the headline.If the person is from Ypsi put it in ie: if the person was from Ypsi it would read " 77 year old Ypsilanti driver accused of " Oh well.........
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 12:09 p.m.
Good thing she didnt hit a duck...
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 12:06 p.m.
@bunny abbot You can report any unsafe driver, whether senior or not, to the state. <a href="http://www.mi.gov/sos/0,4670,7-127-1627_8665_9066-23762--,00.html" rel='nofollow'>www.mi.gov/sos/0,4670,7-127-1627_8665_9066-23762--,00.html</a>
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 3:52 p.m.
yes I know, unfortunetly the lady at the SOS said it is really rare that they take someones license away when some does report them.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 6:09 a.m.
quite honestly a 77 year old could've claimed a medical emergency, she might lose some independance driving but she could have played the stroke or dementia card and gotten a pass.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 6:08 a.m.
To RJA: Do you work for this old lady's lawyer? You speculate about things that are unfounded in-fact.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.
I am so tired of the older generation's sense of entitlement. My own father had to be literally wrestled from his vehicle before he hurt someone. It was not easy to do this, and he was angry. His car had so many dents, that I think Monroe County should have put out warnings when my dad was on the road. WHAT are you gonna do . . . when the old people get on the road?
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 6:24 a.m.
Be careful, bunnyabbot; insinuating that poor reaction times are a symptom of old age may get your comment deleted by the Post Police.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 6:14 a.m.
the state of michigan will grant a license to anyone, a relative cannot request an elderly person not drive, basically there has to be an accident before they would take someones license. I stopped riding in the car with my grandfather driving two years ago for fear of my life. There is no way he should be driving but the state of Michigan just renewed him a few months ago. Sure he can read a stop sign but my God his reaction time is so freaking off.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 6:10 a.m.
It is a hard thing for someone to admit that they are no longer capable of doing something, especially when it means sacrificing some of their freedom of mobility at the same time. I can sympathize with your father's feelings on the subject, as I'm sure most everyone would petulantly insist they were still perfectly able to operate a motor vehicle, even long after the point where they weren't. That said, a former co-worker of mine told me of the Buick dealer in south Florida where he once worked, where they kept side mirrors for every model they sold, painted and ready for installation on the spot. Draw your own conclusions.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 5:39 a.m.
This 77 yr. old lady didn't kill anyone. I have my doubt's that she had a cell phone and was talking on it at the time she struck the man in the wheel chair. I understand the man being fearful, but I wouldn't be surprised if the lady feels worse than him. (the fact that she hit him and didn't realize it) Happy to hear the man wasn't seriously injured. My uncle drove until he was 93, and don't recall him ever having an accident. I truly hope this lady doesn't have to spend time in jail.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.
From a previous article: "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."
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.
Witnesses said she was talking on a cell phone as she rounded the corner if I recall correctly. I believe they also said she was yelling at another driver. How do you explain the witness's account of her swerving around other cars and running a red light, then driving herself home? This woman is a high profile AnnArbor citizen and I do not believe she should be treated with kid gloves.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 5:49 a.m.
The unverified fact that your uncle may or may not have had an accident (by your recollection) does not count as data to support the driving ability of any other person of advanced age.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 3:49 a.m.
Where is the mug annarbor.com? No ducklings were involved, and she doesn't have a hilarious haircut, so I guess we don't get one. Pathetic.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 3:25 p.m.
There could be several reasons, not the least of which is that it's possible the person she hit is not interested in having her charged with anything else. It could also be that the circumstances do not warrant any other charges, and the misdemeanor she's been charged doesn't require an arrest. If you're not arrested, you're not "booked." Not everyone who gets in a crash, even a crash involving injury, is arrested. If there's no immediate and overwhelming reason to believe drugs and/or alcohol is involved, perhaps an appearance ticket was issued.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 12:49 p.m.
Lee said in a previous comment that there is no mug shot because she has never been in custody. I said "Lee, so it is my understanding that you can leave the scene of an accident and drive home and be confronted by the police but never have to go to the station to be booked or fingerprinted? What would the criteria be for allowing this to happen?"
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 2:26 a.m.
She faces more time than the kid that killed a cyclist on a clear day, on a straight road, a few years ago. He's dead, left a family, and the killer didn't even lose his driving privileges. This victim didn't even require hospitalization. Equal justice for all?
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 2:14 a.m.
Is she still driving now?
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 1:53 a.m.
Annarbor.com, please explain the reason that this woman's picture is not included with the article. If someone types "arraigned" in your search box it comes up with many articles with pictures of people who have been arraigned.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 1:35 a.m.
Let's assume this 77-year old lady is being absolutely truthful and simply ran down a man in a wheelchair without being aware of it, moments before witnesses say she swerved around other cars and ran a red light. A lifetime pass for free bus rides on the AATA would seem to be absolutely in order.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 2:38 p.m.
A lifetime on the bus? Cruel and unusual punishment!
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 2:22 a.m.
careful, they removed my comment for saying the same thing only I said she lied when speaking to police because ........ Apparently stating the obvious is not permitted
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 12:18 a.m.
If she is convicted, I predict she will get a slap on the wrist.... and continue driving. Probably a fine, maybe some driver education.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 1:18 a.m.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 12:10 a.m.
I for one, am shocked, shocked that an old woman would be accused of hitting a pedestrian with her SUV, while allegedly talking on a cell phone. Not only is there no proof that these allegations (especially the part about the cell phone, which she claims is not at all true), but furthermore, it is a well-documented fact that older Americans never, ever get into car accidents of any kind, especially car accidents where the possibility of a distraction behind the wheel may be the cause for said accidents. I, for one, am tired of the stereotypes of older Americans driving in a confused fashion, not noticing things around them that younger drivers surely would, failing to signal, driving 15 mph below the speed limit, and so forth. Articles like this only reinforce the false belief that older drivers are more likely to be involved in collisions with pedestrians and stationary objects. It is time for the rest of America to stop perpetuating these false perceptions.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 5:15 a.m.
Rod Johnson wins the Observation Award for picking up the not-at-all-subtle hints. justcurious and mg0blue get honorable mention for helping prove my point. My first post on this topic was deleted, for having the audacity to point out the statistical correlations between advanced age and poor driving.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 4:40 a.m.
@ Rod: It's a "Casa Blanca" thing.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 2:59 a.m.
Do you guys really not get "shocked, shocked"? SMC's post is clearly sarcastic, although to what end I'm not sure.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 2:57 a.m.
Your argument is invalid. <a href="http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2009/03/93yearold_drivers_car_hits_two.html" rel='nofollow'>http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2009/03/93yearold_drivers_car_hits_two.html</a> I could find several other incidents online where an elderly driver mistook the gas for the brake, hitting other vehicles, pedestrians, or buildings.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 1:29 a.m.
Are you being serious? Hard to tell. If you are, here is some food for thought. If you aren't, I didn't get the joke. <a href="http://www.smartmotorist.com/traffic-and-safety-guideline/older-drivers-elderly-driving-seniors-at-the-wheel.html" rel='nofollow'>http://www.smartmotorist.com/traffic-and-safety-guideline/older-drivers-elderly-driving-seniors-at-the-wheel.html</a> "Statistics show that in two-vehicle fatal crashes involving an older and a younger driver, it is 3.1 times as likely that the vehicle driven by the older person will be struck. In 27% of these two-vehicle fatal crashes the older driver was turning left. Drivers over 65, along with new teen-age drivers, have the highest accident rates per miles driven. Another NHTSA study found that on the basis of estimated annual travel, the fatality rate for drivers 85 and over is nine times as high as the rate for drivers 25 through 69 years old. Lawrence Nitz, a political scientist from the University of Hawaii, conducted a three-year study of Hawaiian traffic records and found that drivers over 75 were far more likely than other motorists to be cited for certain offenses, including failing to yield to pedestrians, backing up unsafely and failing to stop at a flashing red light."
Mon, Feb 13, 2012 : 11:35 p.m.
Maybe you should update your stories that basically said it was a cell phone. Tony- I have to question when 7 sister newspapers team up to do an expose on cell phones and driving, and you write an opinion that says we need a new law, what makes these news reporting agencies different then any PAC. I can understand news stories and opinions, but banded together, and along seven different news outlets reporting in the same manner, annarbor.com (and those seven other news outlets) may have merely turned into a cell phone version of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Mon, Feb 13, 2012 : 11:01 p.m.
What? No mug shot?
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 12:46 p.m.
Lee, so it is my understanding that you can leave the scene of an accident and drive home and be confronted by the police but never have to go to the station to be booked or fingerprinted? What would the criteria be for allowing this to happen?
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 11:50 a.m.
Hi a2citizen, There is no mugshot available because the woman has never been in custody.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 1:48 a.m.
I agree with you. There is only one thing that I can think of that would account for no picture, and I don't like that reason.
Mon, Feb 13, 2012 : 11 p.m.
Glad Mr. Foster survived . . . Kudos to the children that obtained the plate number! Sad, if the woman in question actually did hit Mr. Foster, continued driving in an erratic matter, and truly didn't notice that she struck Mr. Foster in his wheelchair . . .
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 3:19 p.m.
My response to just curious should have been attached to a2citizen's mug shot post, below.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 3:18 p.m.
Justcurious, she's charged with leaving the scene of an accident. That's it. It's a misdemeanor...it's the same charge she'd have gotten if she had hit a parked car and left, or crunched a fire hydrant and left. She's not charged with injuring anyone, or careless or reckless driving. She wasn't arrested...she was given a notice to appear in court. You aren't fingerprinted or photographed unless you are arrested for something.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 11:58 a.m.
@bunny abbot If you feel a driver, whether senior or not, is unsafe, here is how to report him/her to the state. <a href="http://www.mi.gov/sos/0,4670,7-127-1627_8665_9066-23762--,00.html" rel='nofollow'>www.mi.gov/sos/0,4670,7-127-1627_8665_9066-23762--,00.html</a>
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 11:52 a.m.
She also did not notice that she swerved around other cars and ran a red light...
Mon, Feb 13, 2012 : 10:57 p.m.
Comments were removed because they violated our conversation guidelines. Please don't post comments that presume guilt on the part of someone who has been charged with a crime. Comments that make stereotypical generalizations about an entire group, such as the elderly, also violate our guidelines.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 7:21 p.m.
A comment was moved to our comment moderation thread because it dealt with our moderation, rather than with the topic of this story. You'll find the comment, and my reply, here: <a href="http://www.annarbor.com/about/annarborcom-conversation-guidelines-comment-moderation/?plckFindCommentKey=CommentKey:cef16f30-0cab-4c57-87ad-56b5db65e09f">http://www.annarbor.com/about/annarborcom-conversation-guidelines-comment-moderation/?plckFindCommentKey=CommentKey:cef16f30-0cab-4c57-87ad-56b5db65e09f</a>
Mon, Feb 13, 2012 : 10:55 p.m.
I have to agree that she needs to be punished for this. However, due to her age I would bet that she will not get the maximum or perhaps no time in jail. I am not attempting to excuse this woman but elderly drivers sometimes have health and cognition issues that really should prevent them from driving a vehicle. These things can come on rather suddenly and the State can't catch it until their next exam, or they never do. It is something that family members need to be aware of and act on. I can't imagine not being allowed to drive a car. When that day comes it will be very difficult, I'm sure. But I hope that I am off the road before something like this happens.
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 9:15 p.m.
"I have to agree that she needs to be punished for this." How about holding judement until conviction....
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 11:50 a.m.
She left the seen of an accident, the law should apply to everyone, why would their be exceptions to the rule?
Tue, Feb 14, 2012 : 1:15 a.m.
Goober, I don't know that age will have anything to do with it. Please re-read my post.
Mon, Feb 13, 2012 : 11:13 p.m.
Oops, a typo. No excuses.
Mon, Feb 13, 2012 : 11:12 p.m.
What does age have to do with this? If she is found guilty, then she should get the same penalty others would get. If she is not able to handle a vehicle safely, then her license should be pulled. On excuses.
Mon, Feb 13, 2012 : 10:38 p.m.
Easy to check her phone record, call her carrier, it'll have her records for the exact time when the incident occurred. Sorry lady time to take your punishment.
Mon, Feb 13, 2012 : 10:35 p.m.
I'm sorry for your misfortune, Gerald. Excellent reporting, Lee. Happy Valentine's Day All ! :-)