A paralyzed Evansville man struggling in rehab is hoping to keep someone else from suffering the same fate.
We’re learning more about Conrad DeJesus – the man hit by an alleged drunk driver while jogging on the Greenway in downtown Evansville in April.
DeJesus’ laywer, George Barnett, says the curve where Fulton Avenue meets Riverside Drive is dangerous and doesn’t meet code.
A lawsuit against the city may force a change.
“It’s going to cost millions of dollars to take care of him, try to rehab him,” Barnett says. “It’s very slow progress.”
A traffic study shows 7,200 cars fly by every day just feet from the same curb where DeJesus was hit by Travis Cox, allegedly driving drunk.
DeJesus is paralyzed from the neck down and can no longer speak. But through his months of rehab, the curve hasn’t been made any safer.
Barnett hired Ellen Mullen from Crane Environmental Services to perform a traffic study on the curve, and she says she found problems.
A bus stop bench sits just 2 feet from the road, which is about 2 feet too close.
It’s within an area called the “shy line,” an area on the edge of roads where an object won’t be perceived as an obstacle, forcing the driver to swerve.
“We happen to have some light posts, some trees, bus stop bench,” Mullen says.
Extra room may not have protected DeJesus, but Mullen believes it could prevent another accident.
Mullen says industry standards show there should be at least 20 feet of “clear zone” off the road. Space for drivers to correct themselves if they jump the curb.
But the Greenway is just 6 feet away.
“This is something that needs to be changed before somebody else suffers a similar tragedy or death,” says Barnett.
Under a legal notice issued to the city in June, Barnett has two weeks to file a lawsuit. But Barnett hopes to reach a settlement outside of court.
Eyewitness News was unable to reach the city today, but in previous attempts for comment we were told they cannot discuss ongoing litigation.
State law allows a maximum of $700,000 in damages.
More than money, the family hopes to make this curve safer by moving the Greenway or installing a guardrail.
“They’re so concerned that somebody else could undergo the same tragedy,” Barnett says, “They’re anxious to have something done.”
Travis Cox faces three felony counts. His trial is set for November 30.