Jeep Strikes, Pins, Seriously Injuries Woman with Baby – in Handicapped Space

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Skid marks, above, were visible at the scene of the accident where a woman with a baby in her arms was struck by a Jeep and pinned to the fence outside of Aqua Bistro in Coral Bay.
Skid marks, above, were visible at the scene of the accident where a woman with a baby in her arms was struck by a Jeep and pinned to the fence outside of Aqua Bistro in Coral Bay.

A mother with her baby in her arms was pinned to a stone-wall supported fence in a parking lot accident in front of the Cocco-loba retail complex in Coral Bay on Monday evening, Feb. 27.

The baby was unharmed and the mother, Karen Barrett of Coral Bay, suffered serious injuries to her legs and knees.

Barrett remained hospitalized at week’s end, friends reported.

Days after the incident, skid marks were still clearly visible in the parking space—one of several spaces in front of the Aqua Bistro bar and restaurant designated for handicapped parking—and blood was spattered on the stone wall supporting the fence.

There are no walkways or tire stops between the handicapped section of the roadside parking area and the gated fence.

A man driving a white Jeep Wrangler pulled in to the handicapped space in front of the shopping complex on South Shore Road around 6 p.m. Monday, according to the V.I. Police Department.

Pinned Against Fence
Barrett, who is in her 30s, was leaving Coccoloba when the Jeep pinned her against the wall supporting the white fence which surrounds the shopping complex, according to V.I.P.D. spokesperson Sgt. Thomas Hannah.

Barrett is the owner of Bliss, a boutique in Coccoloba. She gave birth to her son, Jack, just over a month ago.

Although the accident occur-red in a handicapped parking space with skid marks clearly visible, VIPD officers did not determine the driver was drunk or traveling at a high rate of speed at the time of the crash, according to Sgt. Hannah.

Instead, police are blaming the crash on a poor choice of footwear, according to Hannah.

“The driver of the Jeep was operating the vehicle while wearing slippers,” Hannah said. “One of the slippers came off his foot and got lodged between the gas pedal. In the process of trying to retrieve his slipper, he lost control of the vehicle.”

“There is no indication of drunk driving at this time, it seems to be a matter of the slipper,” said Hannah. “The investigation is still continuing.”

No Sobriety Tests
VIPD officials at the scene did not administer road-side sobriety tests or detain the driver of the Jeep. Police also did not explain why the driver, who is not handicapped, was in the space.

When the driver lost control of the vehicle, he pinned Barrett—who had her son strapped in a carrier across her chest—against the fence with such force the handicapped parking sign bent from the force of her body.

Barrett sustained injuries to both of her legs, according to St. John Rescue Chief John Bowman, who was at the scene.

Baby Unharmed
“The baby was fine, he was unharmed,” he said. “You know a mother’s instinct—I’m sure that she made certain the baby was not in harm’s way.”

The Jeep most likely struck Barrett in her knees, Bowman explained.

“From the way it looked, the bumper height is right about knee cap level,” he said. “Depending on the extent of her injuries, they could be major. We went ahead and splinted her legs as if they were broken, but I can’t say that they were.”

Long Road to Recovery
Barrett, who was transported to the Schneider Regional Medical Center in St. Thomas, underwent surgery on both legs, which were reportedly broken and crushed. She remains in the intensive care unit in serious condition and is expected to be in the hospital for weeks.

Even after Barrett is released from Schneider, her road to recovery is expected to be a long one, as she will most likely need to undergo reconstructive knee or leg surgery, according to Barrett’s friends in Coral Bay, many of whom have organized to help with child care for Barrett’s infant son.

Donations to defray medical costs for Barrett are being collected at various Coral Bay establishments, including Keep Me Posted and Island Blues and in Cruz Bay at Book & Bean.

As of Friday, March 3, VIPD officials did not have any new information regarding the accident or the driver of the Jeep—who has not being charged with any wrongdoing.