On her way to babysit grandchild, elderly woman seriously injured when hit by car

Sharon LaVigna
Sharon LaVigna

An elderly woman on her way to her son’s house to babysit her 1-year-old granddaughter was hit by a vehicle on Orangeburg Avenue Wednesday morning.

The woman — identified by her son as 73-year-old Sharon LaVigna —suffered serious injuries after being tossed up on the hood of the vehicle before landing on the ground, according to authorities.

Her son, Robert LaVigna, said she suffered a ruptured spleen, a punctured lung and multiple broken bones, including in her nose, back and legs.

Sharon LaVigna was walking south at Steuben Way when she was hit by an eastbound Chevrolet sedan, according to Modesto Police Sgt. Kalani Souza.

Robert LaVigna said his mother has arthritis and walks slowly using a cane. He said she also suffered a stroke several months ago, not long after finishing chemotherapy for lymphoma.

In addition to her health struggles, Sharon LaVigna and her husband were the victims of a serial arsonist in San Jose in 2014 who burned down the Victorian home they’d lived in for 45 years. The couple barely made it out alive.

Afterward, they moved to Modesto to be close to their son.

Robert LaVigna lives across the street and a half a block to the east of her. The closest intersection with stop signs and a cross walk is at Rose Avenue, which would require his mother to backtrack and walk approximately a quarter mile to get to his home.

Souza said pedestrians can cross at intersections without crosswalks as long as they do so at a 90-degree angle, without cutting the corner.

He said investigators were talking to witnesses and working to determine who is at fault in the crash, adding that neither speed nor alcohol appear to be a factor in the collision.

Robert LaVigna said people need to slow down and pay attention.

He said motorists come barreling down the road and when they encounter a pedestrian “their attitude is like ‘what you are doing in the street?’ This is a neighborhood, not an expressway.”

He said he’s complained to the city multiple times about people speeding on the road in the eight years he’s lived there. He said in response to his complaint about a 2015 crash in which a vehicle wound up on its hood the city put out a speed monitoring trailer for several hours but that nothing significant has been done since.

LaVigna believes stop signs and crosswalks at more intersections would slow people down and give people like his mother safer opportunities to cross.