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This commentary originally appeared as a comment on “Why Sidewalk Falls Don’t Lead to Windfalls.”

I’ve been reading this series on sidewalks with some interest. A few years ago a member of my family tripped and fell and had serious injuries that contributed to long-term health problems.

The immediate injuries required an ambulance ride to the hospital. And as with other victims in this report there was also a witness who worked adjacent to the damaged sidewalk and knew of other people who had fallen. He administered first aid and called an ambulance.

A short time later an asphalt patch was applied to the sidewalk at the spot where this person fell. It’s just a block away from City Hall. When I walked there recently, the entire sidewalk had been replaced.

Unfortunately, the emergency room doctors were so intent on stopping the serious arterial bleeding that they missed other injuries. A few months later those resulted in the loss of several teeth. All of this happened to a person in their 80s who had otherwise good health.

By the time the extent of these injuries were understood, they had contributed to other health problems that lead to poor diet, malnutrition and this person’s death within a year of the fall.

As my family dealt with the aftermath of this unexpectedly sudden death, we were unable to follow up on any claim against the city. That was in part because too much time had passed, the victim had died and also because we couldn’t track down the person who had witnessed this and many similar accidents (they moved out of their office). I suspect, based on these reports, it wouldn’t have resulted in much.

I’m sharing this story now to illustrate the importance of the city fully funding the infrastructure repairs that are needed and that you are documenting in these reports, so other families don’t have to go through a similar scenario.

Lori Saldaña is a former assemblywoman.


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