In March 2021, Ari Farber was hit in a marked crosswalk by a person driving a car on MLK Jr. Blvd. Farber was doing everything right: he activated the flashing lights and he waited for them to activate before proceeding into the crosswalk. He made it across several lanes when a distracted driver hit him so hard and so fast, that Farber went through the windshield.

MLK Jr. Blvd is one of the deadliest roads in Chapel Hill for pedestrians. Multiple fatalities have occurred on the road, and it has been identified by the Chapel Hill Vision Zero task force as a priority area of focus. We have written about future improvements to one intersection on the road and the deaths and serious injuries that have occurred there in the past.

MLK has had many bicycle and pedestrian accidents, many of them in marked crosswalks.

Farber was a student at UNC when the driver of the car hit him. The crash forced him to miss an entire semester of classes, and it took him an extra semester to graduate. Farber reached out to us to share what happened. Below is what he shared when we chatted.

Ari Farber
Ari Farber is most recovered now. However, he missed a semester of class and had to endure 6 weeks of PT

“It was early March 2021. And I was going to get the regular COVID tests that we had to get on campus, and I was crossing MLK. And I was hit in the crosswalk there – in the actual crosswalk.”

“It was the middle of the day. So broad daylight, the lights were flashing. Other cars had stopped. And then the very last lane. Someone was waving to a friend – that’s what I was told. They hit me.”

“My head went through the windshield. And I was thrown pretty far. So my memories don’t really start coming back until after the emergency room like a few days later.”

“Apparently, I had the presence of mind to tell the first responder to call my mom. I was very worried that she was going to be like, upset with me for getting home late or something. I managed to get the call out and then my parents are in the area so they were able to come. There was complications because of COVID. Only one person could come see me at a time. So it was it was quite a few days before I was able to see my girlfriend. My mom came in and my parents took turns, coordinating medical care and all that stuff.”

“Luckily, they were there pretty quickly. And then I had surgery the next day. Because I was in the hospital for like a week and a half. Then, I was told no non-weight bearing on my leg for six weeks, and then for another six weeks, there was lots of physical therapy for the leg and the concussions.”

“I was going to do an internship with a professor, to help them run his study and I had to drop that. That was pretty big, too. Because the previous year, COVID prevented a lot of internships. So that kind of left me without much extracurricular experience when I entered the job market.”

“Like clearly this person messed up when she was driving, from everything I’ve been told, but also with cars, it’s only a matter of time. It’s like, 99% of the time driving is not hard. But you have to do it correctly. Every single time, you can’t mess up. And humans are not very good at doing everything correctly, every single time.”

John Rees lives in Chapel Hill. His day job is an enterprise architect for a big IT company. He was, until very recently, a member of the Chapel Hill Planning Commission and former chair. He serves on...