Windsor woman dies in ditch after wheelchair flips

The death of a 71-year-old woman who was found in a ditch near the WFCU Centre Wednesday was a result of a heart attack.
Elderly woman lived at this nursing home. (CBC )

Windsor police have determined the death of a 71-year-old woman who was found in a ditch near the WFCU Centre Wednesday was a result of a heart attack.

Matthew D'Asti, a police spokesperson, said the woman lived at The Village of Aspen Lake, a retirement home on McHugh Street in the city's east end.

Officials with the home told CBC News the woman had gone Christmas shopping.

"After some time staff became concerned because she hadn't come back," he said.

According to D'Asti, the woman was found around 10 p.m. in a weed-filled ditch off of Lauzon Rd. on the property of the former General Motors trim plant.

D'Asti said her motorized wheelchair had overturned.

"It was not uncommon for her to go and run errands.  She was free to do that and routinely did that," he said, adding that the staff knew the woman's usual route.

"Sometimes, there would be a malfunction with (her wheelchair) when she was out and our team members would go help with the batteries," said Joanne Potts, the general manager of The Village of Aspen Lake.

City should maintain sidewalks

Harvey Bondy, a long-time advocate for disabled people and in a wheelchair himself for nearly 20 years, was saddened to hear about the incident gave credit to the city for making roads accessible.

He credited the city for making roads accessible.  However, Bondy also said they can do better, especially since he believes more people are using wheelchairs than before.

"It's probably just a sad lesson, but the onus should fall on the city to maintain these lovely curb cuts," he said. "They pat themselves on the back and say, 'Look what we've done,' and they forget about it. Then, they don't go back. They fall into disrepair."

Bondy warned that maintaining sidewalks is critical for wheelchair users.

"If I were to actually break something ... it would be devastating for me because I don't walk," he said. "I use my hands for everything. If I don't have that ability anymore, I'd be in a lot of trouble."

Bondy suggested there are also ways for wheelchair users to protect themselves, including using blinking lights and wearing orange safety vests. 

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