Homeless man in wheelchair dies after being hit by car in South Salt Lake

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 28 2012 9:42 p.m. MST

Officials investigate at the scene of an accident at 700 East and 3065 South in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

SOUTH SALT LAKE — A homeless man was killed Wednesday night when his motorized wheelchair was hit by a motorist who drove off and later told police he didn't realize what had happened.

Unified Police detective Ken Hansen said Raymond Nielson, 59, was hit about 6:20 p.m. near 3065 S. 700 East.

Nielson traversed 700 East on a regular basis in his wheelchair, pulling or pushing a small cart with his belongings in it, police said. He had been visiting a relative in the area Wednesday night.

Hansen said it appears the wheelchair was in the center lane of traffic when it was hit, though it's not clear whether Nielson was crossing the street or driving his wheelchair with traffic in the roadway.

Nielson was taken to Intermountain Medical Center, where he died.

"If you look at the damage to the wheelchair, you can only image what the injuries were to his physical body," Hansen said.

Nielson was hit by a northbound sedan-style car that showed damage on the lower region of its front bumper on the driver's side. Hansen said police are investigating why the driver, a man in his late 60s, wasn't aware he had struck the wheelchair.

"Based on the damage to that wheelchair, it had to have made a significant noise," Hansen said.

Debris from the chair and Nielson's belongings were spilled along the roadway, stretched out more than a block from the point of impact. The cart was found farther down the road.

The wheels of the chair were completely separated from the rest of the machine, resting upright in the center lane.

Police say the driver parked the car near 3100 South and 640 East. The man then walked backed to the scene of the accident and told police he believed he'd hit something in the road.

Officers were re-creating the scene Wednesday night in an attempt to determine the vehicle's speed and the direction of the wheelchair. The accident may be treated as a hit-and-run case, Hansen said.

E-mail: mromero@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @McKenzieRomero

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