Saint John man says he was also struck by man in motorized wheelchair

Elinor Sheehan may not have been the only person in Saint John to be struck by Norman Tuplin in his motorized wheelchair.

John Reid says 80-year-old in motorized wheelchair struck him on Harbour Passage in 2007

Norman Tuplin says running into a 92-year-old woman in the Saint John City Market was an accident and he feels sick about it. (CBC)

Elinor Sheehan may not have been the only person in Saint John to be struck by Norman Tuplin in his motorized wheelchair.

Sheehan, 92, died two months after being hit by Tuplin in the City Market last August.

Elinor Sheehan, 92, was badly injured in August when she was struck in the city market by Norman Tuplin, an 80-year-old amputee who depends on a wheelchair for mobility. She died two months later. (Submitted by Marykate Sheehan)
After CBC reported on the incident Wednesday, John Reid emailed CBC to say he was struck by Tuplin one day in 2007 after he moved to Saint John to work for the Canadian Coast Guard.

Reid said he was walking on Harbour Passage when he was hit from behind and knocked to his knees.

"I was more stunned than anything," said Reid who made sure to give Tuplin a wide berth whenever he saw him around after that.

Reid said he believes Tuplin had malicious intent in striking him from behind because he says he was run into "full tilt."

​Tuplin, an 80-year-old double amputee, apologized Wednesday for hitting Sheehan.

"I'm very sorry and I'm very sorry that it happened," he said.

"I didn't want anything like this to happen."

Tuplin estimates he and his wheelchair weigh about 295 kilograms.

He says being a wheelchair user isn't easy in Saint John. He says he sometimes feels taunted by strangers and in danger from traffic when he drives in the roads.

Wheelchair users considered pedestrians

Jeff Sparks, the chair of the Premier's Council on the Status of Disabled Persons, says wheelchair operators are considered pedestrians and they should demonstrate the same respect and courtesy as any other individual using a sidewalk or moving in a public space.

Anyone can go in and buy a scooter or a wheelchair from a health-care organization.- Jeff Sparks, Premier's Council on Status of Disabled

Sparks said he didn't know enough facts about the Sheehan incident to comment on how it should have played out. But he said people should be held accountable for their actions, whether they're in a wheelchair or not. 

The Sheehan incident was investigated by Saint John Police, but no criminal charges were laid.

Sparks says it's best when occupational therapists are able to assess people for their mobility needs to fit them with the right medical equipment.

And he says, they should also assess the person's physical and mental capacity to use that equipment, safely. But he says that doesn't always happen.

"Anyone can go in and buy a scooter or a wheelchair from a health-care organization," he says.

Sparks says he feels badly about what happened, on behalf of both Tuplin and Sheehan's family. 

"This is one situation which has turned out horribly for the parties in question," he says. 

"As a community we need to not necessarily assume that all people in wheelchairs are dangerous drivers and reckless and are putting the welfare and safety of others at risk,"

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