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Law clerk who advocated for safer streets for the disabled is killed in crash

Posted Nov 8, 2013 2:02 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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When Kenneth "Bryan" Goodwin was injured in a 2011 accident, his wheelchair was stolen while he was being treated at a San Francisco hospital. He made a claim against the city, resulting in a new policy requiring emergency responders to safeguard patients' mobility devices.

Early Monday morning, the 31-year-old legal clerk was involved in a fatal accident in one of the city's most dangerous intersections, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. It remains to be seen whether Goodwin, remembered as a small man with a big personality who fought for safer streets for the disabled, will win another victory on this front as a result of his death.

Only 3 feet tall because of his congenital bone disorder, Goodwin was known by everyone in the 900-employee San Francisco office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in which he worked because of his upbeat, witty, outgoing personality. The EPA's regional administrator, Jared Blumenfeld, described Goodwin to the newspaper as "a very large character" who helped make the office a cohesive team.

"He was a noticeable guy because he didn't look like anyone else," said Goodwin's friend and attorney Nance Becker. "The fact is he could have had a very narrow life, but through his intelligence and personality, he had a fuller life."

Becker represented Goodwin in the claim he made over a 2011 accident in which he was spilled from his wheelchair when it hit a sidewalk bump. He had to spend five days in the hospital after that because he couldn't get around when his wheelchair was stolen, she said.

It was dark when Goodwin was hit by a car as he crossed the intersection of Octavia Boulevard and Market Street shortly after midnight Monday. The previous week, the city had put up a camera there to enforce a rule against motorists making right turns onto a Highway 101 on-ramp from eastbound Market Street. The move followed 30 reported accidents at the intersection between 2009 and 2011, many involving vehicles colliding with pedestrians or bicyclists, the Chronicle says.

It's not clear whether an illegal right turn occurred in the accident involving Goodwin. The driver spoke with authorities, and an investigation is ongoing.

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