A woman who unexpectedly left the grounds of an assisted living home in Windham was hit by a car Wednesday evening while sitting in her wheelchair in the middle of the road, police said.

Police say the 56-year-old woman left her assisted living home and made her way onto River Road around 4:30 p.m. She was wearing dark clothing when she was struck by a northbound vehicle.

Although police did not respond Thursday to multiple requests for more information about the circumstances of the crash, the owner and manager of Windham Residential Care at 495 River Rd., said the woman was a patient there, and that she did not wander off.

Carol Rogers, who said she has owned and operated the ten-bed facility for 40 years, said the unnamed resident told staff she was going outside to have a cigarette before dinner, which was typical.

For reasons that remain unclear, Rogers said, the woman decided to venture down the facility’s driveway to retrieve the mail, a duty typically performed by staff, and never after dark.

“We couldn’t understand what she was doing down there, and why she went down there in the dark,” said Rogers. “It’s just an awful accident.”

The woman, from Portland, suffered a broken arm, a broken leg, and fractured ribs, Rogers said, and underwent surgery Thursday. She is expected to recover.

Rogers said state regulators have already been in touch with her, and that to her knowledge, the incident is being characterized as an accident. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to questions about the incident.

Rogers said the family of the woman has insisted that she was in no way confused at the time of the crash—but why she went to the road is still unclear.

“She did not wander away. She was not a wanderer,” Rogers said. “She knew everything that she was doing.”

The vehicle was driven by a 69-year-old woman from Windham whose name was not released by police early Thursday. She was not injured and was not charged.

Police said in the news release that the accident was still under investigation, but it appeared to be caused by pedestrian error. Neither speed nor alcohol were factors in the crash, according to police.

Windham Police Chief Kevin Schofield did not respond to questions about the crash, or explain what constituted “pedestrian error.”


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