Changes made in a Pawtucket neighborhood after teenager falls victim to hit-and-run

Blackstone Valley

Pawtucket, R.I. (WPRI) — Just steps away from their home, Angela Strohl said her son Joseph Oliveria fell victim to a hit-and-run last week. 

Strohl said her son was out riding his bike, near the corner of Japonica and Sabin Streets last Wednesday afternoon, when a family member ran inside her home to break the news. 

“I ran down the street and my son was laying in the middle of the road, covered in blood, screaming ‘I can’t feel my leg, somebody help me!'” she said.

Strohl said her 14-year-old, who has special needs, broke his leg in two places, dislocated his knee, and suffered a hematoma. 

“I was hurting to death,” Joseph told Eyewitness News on Monday evening.

“I couldn’t move. But, I took all my force to move out of the way.”
Joseph said he is now afraid to ride his bike on Japonica Street, where he and his family live. His mother said she fears for his safety, too. 

“Joseph’s known as a special needs child. Everyone looks out for Joe,” Strohl explain.  “So, I’m comfortable with him riding around the block in his helmet. Now, not so comfortable.”

Strohl said the man who hit her son is now facing charges. But, that wasn’t good enough for her, saying part of the reason this all happened to Joseph was outdated signage in her neighborhood.

The section of Japonica Street, where her family lives, was changed to a one-way street several years ago. But, Strohl said the signs warning drivers that children were at play, were never flipped to face the new traffic pattern. 

“You weren’t seeing any signs at all. For the school, for the kids playing, nothing,” she said. 

So, Strohl took her concerns to the city of Pawtucket. She said it was imperative the city took action in order to ensure drivers slow down in her neighborhood, which is filled with children. 

City spokesperson Wilder Arboleda told Eyewitness News in a statement Monday night:

“We thank the residents for pointing this out and bringing it to our attention. The sign has no bearing on the unfortunate accident. The Pawtucket DPW has removed the one sign and placed one closer to the Sabin Street side where the one-way portion of the street begins.”

Strohl watched as city workers removed the sign on Monday, putting it closer to the start of the one way, and facing the right direction.

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