Connor Walsh May Be Walking Today If His Route to School Had a Sidewalk

The stretch of Laporte Avenue where a driver struck Connor Walsh did not have a sidewalk, but apparently nothing could have changed the outcome of the crash. Image: Google Maps
The stretch of Laporte Avenue where a driver struck Connor Walsh did not have a sidewalk, but apparently nothing could have changed the outcome of the crash. Image: Google Maps

Connor Walsh was walking to his Fort Collins high school on the morning of March 10 when Reginald Loewen, falling asleep at the wheel of his Subaru after working an overnight shift, struck the 16-year-old and broke his back. Walsh had been walking on the shoulder of Laporte Avenue, a street a few blocks away from his school that doesn’t have a sidewalk.

Loewen told the court he thought Walsh was a tree branch, maybe a guard rail, according to the Fort Collins Coloradoan. He left the scene but turned himself in a few hours later after apparently realizing his mistake. The wheelchair-bound Walsh, now 17, has a 10 percent chance of ever walking again.

On Friday, Judge Thomas French handed down a sentence for leaving the scene of a crash involving a serious injury, a felony. He also described the life-altering crash as an “accident,” nothing more.

Reports Jacy Marmaduke of the Fort Collins Coloradoan:

The Fort Collins man who left the scene of a crash that paralyzed a Poudre High School student earlier this year was sentenced on Friday to serve 6 months in jail and three years of supervised probation.

Eighth Judicial District Judge Thomas French was reflective as he handed down the sentence to 36-year-old Reginald Loewen in a half-filled courtroom.

“What came back to me time after time” in deliberation, he said, “was that this accident was just that — an accident. … It was a horrible, life-shattering accident, but an accident nonetheless.”

Unintentional, yes, but calling what happened that morning an “accident” implies that it was not preventable. It was.

Someone who feels tired behind the wheel can pull over and get some rest. And better infrastructure — a sidewalk, for example — can make up for human mistakes.

  • Boggles my mind that a sidewalk isn’t a required piece of infrastructure for a public school. It shows such a callous disregard for the lives of people going there. No matter how car centric you are, many students can’t drive, even if they were given cars. And in highschool, is it still expected that a parent will escort their child to and from school. Utterly insane world.

    • mckillio

      Agreed. Not that sidewalks shouldn’t be required along basically all city streets but they should certainly be required within a couple of square miles of a public school.

      • Absolutely. I don’t mean to imply they shouldn’t be required most streets (except perhaps expressways for example), but at schools, its simply even more egregious.


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