[Urban Scare] Edith (Dede) Welker came home from the hospital yesterday. The 22-year-old is nursing a badly fractured jaw, which is wired shut. Two of her teeth have been knocked out; others are broken. She is bruised and scratched and a gash in her chin took several stitches. Welker's jaw will be wired for at least four weeks.
A vehicle that witnesses describe as a white van with a red stripe plowed into Welker as she rode her bicycle home from work at the 9th and 9th Coffee Garden. It was about 11 p.m. The van was on westbound 300 South, turning right (north) onto 500 East. Welker was also traveling west. The driver slammed into her while turning right. Witnesses told Salt Lake City police she flew up over the hood, then fell to the ground. The driver, who witnesses say was moving at a high rate of speed, did not slow down. Instead, the driver sped away, leaving Welker dazed and bleeding on the side of the road.
Witnesses immediately called 911 and got emergency help. But this story gets even more egregious. The van driver took off with Welker's backpack, containing a wallet with her I.D., credit cards, her tips from four shifts at the Coffee Garden, her cell phone and several checks from donors who are supporting Welker in a charitable trip to Madagascar. Her plans were to leave later this summer after raising $4,000 for the NGO, Azafady. Welker graduated in May from the University of Utah with a degree in environmental studies. She's keenly interested in projects of sustainability and in working with developing nations.
"I think this means I will not be able to make it to Madagascar this July," Welker wrote in describing the accident to her financial backers on her Web site. "I am currently considering pushing my departure back a couple weeks if I am able to heal quickly, or perhaps jumping on the next pioneer scheme, if there's room. After 4 months of fundraising, and thanks to all your
generosity, I have nearly all the funds raised for Azafady and my personal expenses, and this is everything I want to do with my life right now. Patience is my plan, and I also plan to leave those moneys alone completely."
Jenny Harmon, is Welker's 29-year-old sister. She was speaking for her today, as talking is still difficult. Police are investigating, Harmon says, and have taken Welker's mashed road bike into evidence. Witnesses got no license plate number or any other description of the van.
"She's just feeling everything out right now," Harmon says. "She doesn't remember much. She doesn't remember going over the top of the van. She's in pain and sifting through a lot of emotions right now."
Welker uses her bike and public transportation as her sole means of getting around. She was not wearing a helmet--something her sister suspects will change should she eventually get back on a bike.
Anyone who sees the van--white with a red stripe and likely carrying front-end damage on the right side, is urged to get the license plate number and call Salt Lake City police at 799-3000.