Better: For woman and city crossing
Better, one step at a time BY DAN NEPHIN, Staff Writer
Just two months after Christine Doll was struck as she walked across North Lime Street by a driver turning left from East Chestnut Street, the city took steps to make the intersection safer.
Those steps appear to be working.
Doll's recovery is taking much longer.
A year ago today -- as she had done countless times -- Doll was walking between her job at Williams Apothecary at Lime and Chestnut and its facility at 208 N. Lime.
"It's all I was going to do, cross the street. And the light was green -- the light was green. I always check. And then I wasn't there," Doll, 60, said Monday during an interview at Acadia Inc., an East Lampeter Township brain injury rehabilitation center.
Double-checking had been ingrained in apothecary workers because of crashes and close-calls over the years there.
Employees had been hit or brushed by vehicles. And the corner apothecary had been hit at least a dozen times in 25 years.
Doll has no memory of the moment her life changed forever.
The crash left her with a huge gash in her right thigh, a broken right rib and a broken right ankle. She lost her left eye and sustained severe brain injury.
She was in a coma for about a month.
"The first day, (doctors) didn't give her much of a chance," Wilmer Doll, Christine's husband, said in a phone interview.
After six days at Lancaster General Hospital, Christine Doll was flown by helicopter to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, where she spent more than a month, followed by two months at Moss Rehab in suburban Philadelphia.
Even into her stay at Jefferson, it was unclear she'd live, Wilmer Doll said.
"There were one or two (doctors) who flat-out told me it was over. They didn't think she'd make it," he said.
Then "she kinda just woke up one day and started looking around," he said.
She didn't think anything was wrong and wanted to go home, he said. That wasn't to be for more than two months.
She basically had to relearn everything, he said: how to talk, how to eat.
Her balance and stamina decreased. Her attention and memory diminished. And she had trouble with reasoning, problem solving and judgment.
She's no longer able to drive -- she jokes she's chauffeured everywhere.
Since late June, Doll has been spending weekdays at Acadia, working on her rehabilitation.
She has been making strides, particularly since January.
She can now be alone for periods of time. She's begun grocery shopping. And she's started cooking and cleaning.
Her diminished memory and concentration mean she has to really think about things a lot, such as the order of tasks, she said.
She's twice been to Central Market, which she loves.
In her hurried speech -- another change -- she mimics her husband, who would drop her off near Market and then park: "Standrightthere 'tilIpark," she said. "Don'tmove. Don'tmove."
And she's visited the apothecary. Staff there visited her while she was at Moss.
"I just want to say, my co-workers and my family are so supportive of me," she said.
There have also been family changes.
"We don't argue about stupid things," she said. "I think we're closer. I love them all dearly of course."
Wilmer used to enjoy going to high school sporting events, but he has had to curtail that because his wife can't be alone for long periods.
"From day one (of the crash) I got the attitude, when we got married ... we signed up for this," Wilmer Doll said. "For better and for worse; in sickness and in health."
The couple, raised in the West End, have been together since they were 14 years old.
In October, the Dolls moved to a single-story home, also in the city.
Christine Doll is optimistic she might be able to finish her rehabilitation at Acadia within a few months.
"I think my mind will eventually get to the point where I'm OK with it," she said.
She said she's not bitter about what happened. The driver whose vehicle hit Doll, Wha Soon Cho-Choung of Lancaster, pleaded guilty to a summary charge of failing to give the right of way to a pedestrian.
"I'm sorry, of course ... because everyone did so much for my sake," she said.
After Doll was hit, apothecary owner Richard Williams bought safety vests for employees to wear when they cross the street. Wear them or find a new job, he said.
And Doll's co-worker, Terri Longenecker, led the push for safety improvements.
On May 4, the city put up "No turn on red" and "Turning vehicles must yield to pedestrians" signs. Three days later, the city replaced 8-inch traffic signal lights with 12-inch lights, making them more visible.
In June, after receiving PennDOT approval, signals were changed to give pedestrians the white "walk" signal for several seconds before the light for motorists turns green.
And in July, a "State law yield to peds in crosswalk" sign was added.
City public works director Charlotte Katzenmoyer said she believes the changes have made the intersection safer.
According to city police, there have been 10 minor crashes at the intersection since May. None involved injuries, and none involved pedestrians.
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