Woman in coma af­ter scooter ac­ci­dent

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Larry Barszewski

Ashanti Jor­dan has not wo­ken up since the day six weeks ago when she hopped on a green-and­black scooter and took off onto a down­town Fort Laud­erdale street.

A car hit her as she rode the for-rent scooter.

To­day she lies in a veg­e­ta­tive state in the hos­pi­tal with a frac­tured skull, a se­vere brain in­jury and mul­ti­ple bro­ken ribs. Doc­tors also had to re­move a por­tion of her skull.

The fam­ily of the 27-year-old Fort Laud­erdale woman is warn­ing peo­ple that the scoot­ers are dan­ger­ous — and that dock­less scooter cus­tomers are be­ing given bad in­for­ma­tion about where they’re sup­posed to ride the scoot­ers.

“I just can’t even stand to see those scoot­ers. It’s so trau­ma­tiz­ing at this mo­ment,” said her mom, Tracy Jor­dan. “It’s like ev­ery time I see some­one on the scooter, it’s like they don’t un­der­stand the danger be­hind driv­ing these scoot­ers.”

Since be­ing launched in Novem­ber, of­fi­cials say about 4,000 peo­ple a week are rid­ing down­town and at the beach on scoot­ers pro­vided by four com­pa­nies: Gotcha, Bird, Lime and Bolt.

City com­mis­sion­ers last week heard com­plaints from res­i­dents about the new way to get around the city, but they agreed to let the dock­less scoot­ers con­tinue op­er­at­ing. The scoot­ers are only al­lowed on side­walks in the city.

But that’s not what at least one of the com­pa­nies is telling cus­tomers, said at­tor­ney Todd Fal­zone, who is rep­re­sent­ing Ashanti Jor­dan, who was in­jured while rid­ing a Lime scooter Dec. 28.

The Lime scooter app, as well as writ­ing on the scooter it­self, tells peo­ple us­ing it not to ride on side­walks, he said. The app mes­sage is re­peated at least three times, he said.

“Lime is telling these rid­ers to break the law. They’re telling them don’t ride on the side­walks and then, as a re­sult, these poor folks are in the mid­dle of traf­fic. They’re rid­ing down the roads,” said Fal­zone, of the Kel­ley/Uustal law firm, dur­ing a news con­fer­ence Mon­day.

The com­pany said in a state­ment that “the safety of our rid­ers and the com­mu­nity is our high­est pri­or­ity” and “our thoughts re­main with Ms. Jor­dan and her fam­ily,” but did not com­ment on the mes­sages it gives users telling them not to ride on side­walks.

There has been con­fu­sion about where the scoot­ers can go. Even ini­tial in­for­ma­tion put out by the city said they could be used in “streets, parks, side­walks, etc.” That was the think­ing at the time of Jor­dan’s in­ci­dent.

But City At­tor­ney Alain Boileau no­ti­fied com­mis­sion­ers Jan. 17 that side­walks were the only ac­cept­able place. He said he’s aware that scooter com­pa­nies are pro­vid­ing con­flict­ing in­for­ma­tion.

“The lan­guage on the scoot­ers is legally in­cor­rect and some­thing that ob­vi­ously cre­ates con­fu­sion and mis­in­for­ma­tion as it per­tains to their use in Fort Laud­erdale,” Boileau said in an email re­sponse to the South Florida Sun Sen­tinel. “The lan­guage will have to change and this is just one of the is­sues that will be ad­dressed with the scooter com­pa­nies.”

Jor­dan was struck by a pas­sen­ger car at the in­ter­sec­tion of South­west Third Av­enue and South­west Fifth Street, Fal­zone said. That’s a short way away from Broward Health Med­i­cal Cen­ter, where she worked in se­cu­rity and where she now lies un­con­scious in the in­ten­sive care unit.

“She’s not do­ing good. It’s heart­break­ing to see her in these con­di­tions. We’re pray­ing for her, hop­ing that the sit­u­a­tion gets bet­ter over time,” Tracy Jor­dan said.

Her daugh­ter, a Plan­ta­tion High grad­u­ate, is the old­est of five chil­dren. Doc­tors won’t be able to give a prog­no­sis un­til swelling of the brain goes down, which could take months, Tracy Jor­dan said. She’s cling­ing to hope that some­day her daugh­ter will be con­scious again, able to talk and eat.

“I just want this night­mare to re­ally be over with, but I un­der­stand it’s a long process, so I’m try­ing to be pa­tient and I’m lean­ing on hope,” she said.

No charges have been filed against the car’s driver, but the scene was in­ves­ti­gated by traf­fic homi­cide de­tec­tives be­cause of Jor­dan’s grave con­di­tion, Fal­zone said.

State law pro­hibits the mo­tor­ized scoot­ers from be­ing op­er­ated on streets, in bike lanes or paths. The state doesn’t al­low them on side­walks ei­ther, un­less specif­i­cally autho­rized by a city. A num­ber of cities have banned their use.

Fal­zone is con­cerned about pro­pos­als the state is con­sid­er­ing to al­low the scoot­ers in traf­fic and en­cour­aged peo­ple to con­tact leg­is­la­tors to op­pose the changes be­cause of the danger.

Fort Laud­erdale has the most ro­bust pro­gram in the state for al­low­ing the dock­less scoot­ers. The four com­pa­nies have per­mis­sion to rent up to 1,700 scoot­ers in the city.

City com­mis­sion­ers are con­cerned about the speed the scoot­ers can travel on the side­walks. The scoot­ers are cur­rently al­lowed to travel up to 15 mph, which com­mis­sion­ers said was too fast on side­walks that are also be­ing used by pedes­tri­ans.

Fort Laud­erdale fire-res­cue of­fi­cials say they have re­sponded to at least 35 scooter in­juries, in­volv­ing peo­ple ages 14 to 62, with four in the most se­ri­ous “Level 1” trauma cat­e­gory.

A scooter struck a jog­ging Broward Cir­cuit Judge Su­san Al­spec­tor on State Road A1A. She fell, was in­jured and had to be hos­pi­tal­ized. In other in­ci­dents, a 14-year-old scooter user was struck by a hit-and-run driver on Fed­eral High­way and a woman in her 50s was se­ri­ously in­jured rid­ing a scooter in­side the Kin­ney Tun­nel.

“I just want every­body in the com­mu­nity to un­der­stand this is dan­ger­ous and this is wrong,” Tracy Jor­dan said. “These things can ul­ti­mately end your life.”

“I just want every­body in the com­mu­nity to un­der­stand this is dan­ger­ous and this is wrong. These things can ul­ti­mately end your life.” Tracy Jor­dan, Ashanti Jor­dan’s mom

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