Elke Donschenko (left), who broke her wrist in White Rock July 11, meets with Jacqueline Lewis (centre) and Ellen Canesso on Friday. (Aaron Hinks photo)

White Rock senior breaks wrist after tripping on gravel patch

74-year-old woman, who fell at the corner of Fir and Russell, says no one stopped to help

A 74-year-old woman cut her head, broke her wrist and fractured a finger after losing her balance on loose gravel in uptown White Rock last week.

Elke Donschenko told Peace Arch News Friday that she was walking on the north side of Russell Avenue and crossing Fir Street on July 11, when she lost her footing on an uneven section of the intersection.

The impact resulted in a gash above her right eye.

The senior – who was walking unassisted and alone – said she was in shock, and walked aimlessly in the hopes of finding help.

“I was majorly bleeding from my head and I was trying to wipe it,” she said, adding she was not concerned, at the time, about the damage done to her wrist.

After the fall, Donschenko said she limped along Fir Street and then turned north on George Street. Nobody stopped to help, or see if she was OK, she said.

“I was trying to get to a place where I could get a little help. There were two people walking towards me and all they did was look. So I kept going, and there was another two people – same thing. I thought they may have a tissue or something. Then I came around the corner.”

Donschenko turned east on 16 Avenue, and walked in front of a multifamily complex. There, she was spotted by Jacqueline Lewis and her neighbour Ellen Canesso.

“I was just standing outside my apartment block – chatting with my neighbour,” Lewis told PAN. “This lady walked in front of me and I noticed that her face was covered with blood. I immediately asked if she was OK, and she obviously wasn’t.”

Lewis, who brought the matter to PAN’s attention after reading about concern over seniors falling in White Rock due to construction, said there was blood streaming down Donschenko’s face and onto her chest, and she told them they were the first people to ask if she needed help.

“Just horrible – how could somebody walk past? It’s not Halloween, it’s not like somebody is pretending they’re full of blood,” Lewis said. “I’m a senior, if I had fallen – or anybody I know had fallen – and had to walk a couple of blocks, bleeding all over, and not one person stops?”

Lewis and Canesso helped Donschenko cross 16 Avenue to a nearby medical centre.

“People are whizzing by us, we’re trying to wave them down so we can get this woman across the street, and we have the same problem. Stupid people around here, I’m absolutely ashamed of what’s going on around here – it’s terrible,” Lewis said.

Lewis, Canesso and Donschenko exchanged phone numbers as Donschenko went into the medical centre. After being examined by a doctor, Donschenko was told she needed to visit the hospital.

“I actually walked to the hospital, limping a bit. I had a couple scrapes on my right knee. I was (at the hospital) the whole day – eight hours,” Donschenko said, noting she’s seeing a specialist on Tuesday.

More than a week after the fall, Lewis and Canesso joined Donschenko to meet with PAN at the gravel patch that caused the fall.

Lewis and Canesso greeted Donschenko with a hug – it was the first time the woman met since the accident. Donschenko wore sunglasses – concealing a black eye – and was sporting a green cast and a bandage above her right eye. Her fingers, sticking out of the end of her cast, were bruised purple.

The women began talking about the dangerous of walking city streets – and touched on everything from inattentive flaggers, double-trailer dump trucks, uneven ground and “unnecessary” gravel patches.

Canesso explained to the women that she spent more than seven months in physiotherapy – learning how to walk again – after a series of surgeries.

Although her doctor said she’s strong enough to walk without a walker, Canesso said there’s “not a chance” she would leave the walker at home while out on White Rock streets.

“If anyone of us fall, I would assume… that somebody would stop and help if one of us was hurt,” Lewis said. “But it doesn’t seem to be the case.”

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Elke Donschenko (centre), who broke her wrist in White Rock July 11, is flanked by Jacqueline Lewis (right) and Ellen Canesso (left) on Friday. The women stand near a gravel patch which caused Donschenko to fall. (Aaron Hinks photo)

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