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Redlands officer repairs woman’s wheelchair following hit-and-run

By in Press Enterprise on November 28, 2017

By Beatriz E. Valenzuela

People who were rushing to and from a Redlands shopping center gather up last minute cans of pumpkin puree and the special spices needed for the perfect turkey brine, may have driven past a woman who has become part of the city’s scenery Wednesday, Nov. 22.

Sitting in her wheelchair, the diminutive woman — known as Diane — with sandy blonde hair in shambles and bags tied to her only mode of transportation, can usually be seen near the entrance of the Redlands Boulevard shopping center anchored by Walmart on one side and Food 4 Less on the other.

The day before Thanksgiving was like any other day for her. Diane was scooting along the parking lot near the Jack in the Box when a white pick-up truck turned, sideswiping the woman. Witnesses called for an ambulance but she was not hurt. Her wheelchair, however, was damaged and police were called so she could report the hit-and-run.

“I recognized her but I don’t know if she remembered me,” Redlands police Cpl. Alex Paredes said. Paredes once worked in the department’s Homeless Assistance Program and had run into Diane before.

She didn’t have enough information to track down the driver, Paredes recalled, but one look at her wheelchair and he knew he couldn’t leave her there.

“It was the day before the holidays so we couldn’t get someone to bring her a new wheelchair,” Paredes said.

Instead, Paredes — a 17-year-veteran of the department — walked to a nearby AutoZone, borrowed some tools and fixed the wheelchair.

The impact of the hit, pulled the rubber portion of the wheel off it’s hub rendering it immovable, Paredes said.

After several minutes, Paredes was able to fit the rubber back onto the chair, much to the delight of Diane.

“I couldn’t leave her there. I just did what had to be done,” […]    

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