ARLINGTON – In the moments after an elderly woman was struck by a car as she crossed a busy intersection on Massachusetts Avenue Thursday night, strangers rushed to comfort the woman — and to console the driver and his wife.
Maureen Stephens, 50, said today that when she spoke with the driver and his wife right after the crash, they were distraught over what had just happened as the 77-year-old woman was crossing the wide and busy section of Massachusetts Avenue at the intersection with Orvis Road.
“They were beside themselves,” Stephens said of the driver, whom Arlington police have identified as Paul F. Giragosian, and Giragosian’s wife. “I can’t even imagine what they are going through.’’
The woman was in the crosswalk when she was struck, and police have charged Paul Giragosian with failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and driving without a license.
Stephens said the Giragosians told her they did not see the woman crossing the street.
Stephens said she learned that the Giragosians were returning home from the Burlington Mall where they had done some Christmas shopping when the crash took place around 10 p.m. near the Capitol Theatre.
But as Stephens consoled the driver, others rushed to help the woman, a familiar figure in the neighborhood where, Stephens said, she has often seen her collecting cans from trash barrels.
Larry Roop, who lives right at the intersection, said he heard the sound of the car striking the woman and knew instantly what had happened. He rushed out of his house to provide whatever help he could, even though he did not know who it had happened to.
He found the woman, who is believed to be homeless, had been knocked some distance away from the intersection by the impact.
“It’s a terrible sound,’’ Roop said. “I knew someone had been hit.”
Roop said the woman was still alive when he got to her. She was bleeding from her mouth and was breathing heavily, but her eyes were open. He said she was wearing multiple layers of very worn clothes.
“She was trying to get up, she was fighting. I thought she was going to make it,” Roop said, adding that he learned today that the woman died from her injuries.
Roop said a worker at a nearby convenience store rushed out to help the woman, too, cradling the woman’s head until first responders arrived. Red flags that people can carry in their hands as they venture into the crosswalk are on either side of the street.
Several residents said it is dangerous for anyone to use the crosswalk.
“It’s an accident waiting to happen,” Roop said.
The woman’s name has not been released pending notification of next of kin. Arlington Police Chief Frederick Ryan said the investigation is continuing.