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Friday, Sep. 19, 2014

Your View 7/1: Obey laws; Health care concerns

Monday, July 1, 2002

Enough is enough!

I am writing this letter to educate the drivers of our city of Sikeston as well as Scott County, the Sikeston Police Department, the driver's education instructors at Sikeston High School and driving instructors of private driving schools in our city and county about the Missouri law concerning blind pedestrians.

Late this afternoon (June 17), shortly after 5 p.m., I was almost hit by a driver making a left turn, heading south on North Main onto Smith going east, or one making a right turn from North Main heading south onto Smith going east. I had the green light and right-of-way. Fortunately, the good Lord was with me, and my white cane hit the passenger's side of the car or the front of the car instead of me. Also, the driver made an illegal turn and turned into the oncoming traffic lane and crossed the white line painted on the street for the traffic heading west on Smith to come to a stop when approaching the intersection, and the light is red. Had there been an approaching car, there would have been a head-on collision, and I would have been hit by the bouncing of the cars on impact.

I need to explain that I am legally blind with retinitis pigmentosa with a visual field of 2 to 8 degrees central vision in the right eye. My left has very little useful vision. This means that I have tunnel vision in the right eye only. I cannot see to the side, only straight ahead. I walk with a long white/red cane.

My wife, Mickie, is also legally blind since birth due to congenital cataracts. She has side vision and also central vision but the visual acuity is 20/200, which means she has blurred vision. She walks with a guide dog, a black lab. At times, she will use a walker with a white support cane attached to it.

The Missouri Driver's Handbook states the following regarding drivers approaching any intersection: "Drivers must always yield right-of-way to persons who are blind. When a pedestrian crossing a street or highway guided by a dog or carrying a white cane (or a white cane with a red tip), vehicles must come to a complete stop." There are other laws for yielding right-of-way to pedestrians.

Today's incident was not the only time I have been almost hit. There was another time, on a Saturday morning when I was almost hit crossing Smith with the green light by a driver making a left turn. At the time of crossing, I had some parallel traffic, but it cleared before I got across the street. The driver's car front bumper hit my cane and sent it flying from my hand. I let the cane go upon impact. There was another driver stopped for the red light on Smith. He got out of his car, retrieved my cane and checked to see if I was all right. He saw the unyielding driver making the left turn right in front of me when the parallel traffic cleared.

The driver, in today's incident, broke two laws, failure to yield right-of-way to a blind pedestrian and also making an illegal turn by crossing into the incorrect lane.

I also had an incident of being almost hit by drivers making a left turn onto North Main from Tanner, going north on North Main; or making a left turn from Tanner going south on North Main. There have been incidents when drivers making a right turn did not yield when I had the green light. These drivers must pay attention to pedestrians when making the right turn on a green light.

Regarding the intersection at Tanner and North Main, there is only one protected left turn signal; that is for the traffic heading north on North Main, and are going to turn left and go west on Tanner. I know when not to cross Tanner.

Both my wife and I pay attention to traffic sounds at intersections and always move at the beginning of the green light cycle when we have parallel traffic. There are times when the sun can be blinding, due to tremendous glare when heading east during the mornings or west in the late afternoons.

About a year or two ago, I was almost hit by a Sikeston police car when I was crossing Smith on a green light from the Stan's /Super D corner to the First Midwest Bank corner. That officer was making a right turn on green, and he did not have flashing emergency lights or siren on at the time. He also failed to follow the law.

There are other blind citizens in our community who use a white cane or guide dog. In October, there will be a Missouri Council of the Blind State Convention which will be held at the Ramada Inn. There will be a large number of blind citizens from various parts of the state in attendance. Our drivers must start obeying the law now, before the convention in October. I also strongly encourage the Sikeston Police Department to enforce the laws in the Missouri Driver's Handbook, and especially those laws pertaining to yielding right-of-way to blind pedestrians.

Thank you for publishing this letter to educate our drivers.

Respectfully, Andrew A. Ormsby Jr.

Health care costs are skyrocketing. People are dying because they can't afford even a checkup.

My dear old wife needs heart medication, at the ripe old age of 48. She went to Missouri Delta Medical Center in Sikeston with a slight chest pain. The bill was $900, mainly for using the waiting room. She was given a prescription and broke them in half to make them last longer and never got them refilled. Just couldn't afford it.

I have a bill at a hospital in Cape. I had an abscessed tooth. The hospital gave me some antibiotic and sent me to Doctor's Park to get the tooth pulled. Then I get billed $900 from the hospital, $120 from the lab and $170 from the dentist, not including the prescription.

My wife and I both work six days a week. She has life insurance; I don't. I think the funeral homes and the doctors are in cahoots. Without health care, we die.

Larry Coram, Oran