Man in wheelchair struck, injured, while crossing Highway 33A man using a wheelchair to cross Highway 33 near the Armory frontage road in Cloquet last Thursday was hit by a car and injured.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
A man using a wheelchair to cross Highway 33 near the Armory frontage road in Cloquet last Thursday was hit by a car and injured.
According to the Minnesota State Patrol, Cloquet’s Kevin Sebunia was crossing the road in his wheelchair when he was struck by a car northbound on Highway 33, driven by Paula Nading, also of Cloquet.
MSP Captain Steve Stromback said no one was cited for the accident, noting that heavy rain at the time of the accident reduced visibility on the road and Sebunia was not in a crosswalk.
“Pedestrians or people in wheelchairs are required to cross in crosswalks when they are available,” Stromback said. “Someone in a wheelchair has to follow the same rules as a pedestrian.”
Stromback said Sebunia was transported to Community Memorial Hospital, adding the injuries were “not life threatening.” Cloquet Deputy Police Chief Terry Hill said Sebunia was conscious and talking to emergency workers at the scene.
A Wal-Mart coworker of Sebunia’s said he was at a Duluth hospital with numerous broken ribs, adding that his wheelchair was totaled in the accident. A spokesperson for Essentia St. Mary's hospital in Duluth confirmed that Sebunia was there and was listed in "fair" condition a week after the accident, Thursday, Sept. 26.
That particular intersection — where the Brenny- Dahl driveway and the shared entrance to L&M Supply and Premiere Theatres meets Highway 33 — is the site of the most accidents in Cloquet, with 20 reported accidents from 2007 through 2011. The intersection of Highway 33, Doddridge Avenue and Big Lake Road came in second, with 16 accidents over the same five-year period.
According to a plan by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the stretch of highway in front of the Armory will see some big changes next summer when MnDOT, the city of Cloquet and Carlton County restructure Highway 33. While southbound Highway 33 vehicles will still be able to turn left into the L&M Supply/movie theater entrance, northbound traffic will have to drive to a new turn site at Armory Road to get to Pine Tree Plaza or Pine Valley recreation area.
As well, traffic exiting the Brenny-Dahl drive will only be allowed to turn right — and won’t be able to cross the highway or turn left — although vehicles could access the northbound Highway 33 lanes by doing a U-turn at Washington Avenue, according to the project page on the MnDOT website.
The main intersection at Highway 33, Doddridge Avenue and Big Lake Road also will be reconfigured to increase capacity and speed up/change the signal cycle (especially for the east- and west-bound lanes that currently take turns crossing the intersection). There will also be substantial changes to the roadway surrounding the intersection (www.dot.state.mn.us/d1/projects/hwy33cloquet/).
A new audible signal pedestrian crossing will also be added at the Wal-Mart intersection during next summer’s construction, Assistant City Engineer Caleb Peterson said.
The story in the Sept. 26 issue of the Pine Journal “Man in wheelchair struck, injured, while crossing Highway 33” did not fully explain the extent of accident victim Kevin Sebunia’s injuries. According to Sebunia’s sister-in-law, Kevin sustained life-threatening injuries. He did not regain consciousness until he was in the emergency room. Sebunia suffered not only broken ribs but also a broken clavicle (collar bone), broken pelvis and lacerated spleen. Family members said Tuesday that Sebunia has been released from Intensive Care at Essentia St. Mary’s Hospital in Duluth but is still in the Neuro-Trauma Unit and has a long road ahead to recovery. People can send cards to Kevin Sebunia c/o Essentia St. Mary’s Hospital in Duluth or c/o Wayne Sebunia, 26 West Second Avenue N, Aurora, MN 55705.