Neighbor of victim struck by ATV during Zozobra setup asks city to change locationLocal NewsFriday, September 4, 2015
While thousands prepare to descend on Fort Marcy for the burning of Zozobra, a Santa Fe woman is in stable condition at a local hospital after a private contractor setting up fencing for the event struck her while he was backing an ATV off a sidewalk, a member the Kiwannis Club tells SFR.
The accident occurred mid-afternoon Wednesday, and Ray Sandoval, who chairs the Zozobra event committee, called it "a horrible, horrible accident."
While Sandoval says he didn’t see the accident directly, he adds that he held the woman’s hand while she lay in the parking lot and the two waited for an ambulance to arrive.
Sandoval says the woman was walking her dog, and that witnesses told him later that “a big, big black poodle” may have been “spooked” by the ATV’s engine just as its driver, Mark Brumley, was backing it up off the sidewalk so that pedestrians would have a clear path to walk on.
At some point, Brumley struck the woman, and the back tire drove over her chest, but Sandoval isn’t sure yet whether the woman fell first and then was struck by the ATV or if the ATV actually hit her first, he says.
Santa Fe police responded but did not issue a citation to Brumley.
A neighbor of the victim, Laurie Schraeder, has written the Santa Fe City Council requesting that the city consider moving Zozobra to a safer location in the future and “put a check on” the people who run Zozobra, in particular the Kiwannis Club.
“This event should be halted tonight because of this accident and to ensure the public is not put in harm’s way due to the organizers negligence,” Schraeder wrote. “However barring that, I would urge the city to reconsider the organizers involvement in the future, put it up for bid to organizers that have a good safety record and at the very least put checks on Kiwannis organizers to ensure public safety.”
While Sandoval says he sympathizes with the frustration of Schraeder, he says he holds safety in high regard and that it looks like there was nothing the setup crew could have done, especially if it turns out that the poodle lurched forward, taking the woman with it.
He also says that responding police officers called it an accident and then left the scene, giving him a case number.
Santa Fe Police spokeswoman Andrea Dobyns claims she didn’t know anything about the accident but says she planned to look into it.
As coincidence would have it, Sandoval says that he had actually asked that the city shut down the Fort Marcy complex for a few days so that the setup crew could do its work with nobody around. Unfortunately, Genoveva Chavez Community Center was repairing a roof on Wednesday and had to close. The city, Sandoval says, did not want two of its facilities closed at the same time on the same day.
Sandoval says there is no doubt that Zozobra has grown in popularity, as evidenced in the 11 miles of fencing that is put up now to accommodate the estimated 45,000 people who show up each year. He says the club, in its role of running Zozobra, makes a point of of going door-to-door and handing out flyers to the hundreds of neighbors as a way of preparing them for the event, which features the burning of Old Man Gloom to kick off Fiestas and "to burn away" your troubles before the winter sets in.
The woman, who was taken to the intensive care unit, according to Schraeder, “was touch-and-go for a while,” as she suffered from a “caved-in chest,” which required a tube, and also suffered a serious open arm fracture.
“She’s still not out of the woods,” Schraeder wrote the council. “On top of this her husband told me the policewoman was very rude, not at first believing the story of the woman who was run over until she saw the seriousness of it.”
Schraeder went on to say, “This poor woman who was run over was on the sidewalk for goodness sake, walking her dog and for this staff member not to even look before backing up at full speed is negligent and needs to be addressed.
“Was this person even trained for safety? I really feel horrible and want to know that I am being heard in making this complaint and that the city will look into this awful accident which could have been avoided if the person driving the ATV had safety first in mind.”
Sandoval says he doesn’t think Zozobra should be relocated and that he will wait to hear back from police on the investigation.
Meanwhile, Brumley, Sandoval says, “is devastated” by what happened and even went to the hospital to check on the woman, while the dog was taken care of by a local vet.
“Nobody likes to see this,” says Sandoval.