Mobility scooter users as bad as boy racers, victim warns after she's hospitalised in accident

A Waikato woman who now needs surgery for a broken shoulder after being knocked over by a mobility scooter says they're as bad as boy racers.

Michele MacDonald was hospitalised on Thursday after she was sent flying on the footpath in Paeroa's main street by a mobility scooter driven by a local man. 

"My arm socket is fractured, and I've got breaks down my arm at the top of the humerus. Just to move, even a flinch, is just horrendous pain," the 77-year-old told Newshub.

MacDonald said she had just stepped out of the chemist and had her back to the scooter when it collided with her "at a great speed".

"I didn't hear him or anything. The first thing I know is I'm on the ground." 

As five chemist staff rushed to help, her husband confronted the driver.

"He just said, 'I can't get out and help you because I've had two hip replacements', and when Graeme said, 'What the hell are you doing', he just took off."

A spokesperson for Waka Kotahi said mobility scooters should be ridden on the footpath "wherever possible" but pedestrians do have right of way. If a driver is involved in an accident they should stop and see if anyone is hurt and they must report the crash to police within 24 hours. Ultimately mobility scooters should travel "at a safe speed" but Waka Kotahi did not specify what that is.

Hauraki District Mayor Toby Adams said there has been "the odd close call" in the town, often involving older drivers of mobility scooters.

Paeroa has seen an explosion in the number of elderly residents in recent years and one of the country's biggest retirement villages is currently under construction there.

"It's probably a gentle reminder, not even a gentle one but actually a blimmin' good reminder, that you have to share these spaces. We just need to slow the speed down," said Adams.

Michele MacDonald.
Michele MacDonald. Photo credit: Newshub.

Police are investigating. Locals said it was only a matter of time.

"I've seen close calls. They just run out on the zebra crossings and don't even look," said local resident Winnie Paynter.

Another Paeroa resident Chris Yeates told Newshub: "They run into the side of your legs."

Mayor Adams said it's an issue for councils across New Zealand as the population ages and health issues see others become less mobile.

"It is going to be something we see more and more often, and it is something we are investing in around New Zealand with wider footpaths and stuff but it takes time."

He said his council did "a massive job over in Waihi where there was a lot of this happening, particularly around the hospital and that kind of fixed the issue but it is going to take a while".

MacDonald, who will undergo surgery next week at Waikato Hospital, just wants to see an acceleration in common sense. 

"They think they are boy racers still. They think they are when they are 90... They need to slow up."

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