PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Following a monthslong recovery after a park maintenance vehicle ran her over on a walk, Providence Councilwoman Helen Anthony returned to city business on Thursday.
Anthony, 63, told reporters she was in California in June to be with her husband, who was attending a conference.
On the Saturday morning of her trip, Anthony said went for a walk and was hit by a recreational vehicle in California in June while she was crossing the entry road to Point Lobos State National Reserve, according to California Highway Patrol.
“All I remember is walking along and everything went black,” Anthony said. “And I do remember saying ‘Oh no,’ and that was it. I don’t remember anything else for a very long time.”
Police said Anthony was in a crosswalk at the time, and the 82-year-old driver had accelerated “to an unsafe speed.” The driver stopped after the crash and cooperated with the investigation, according to police.
Ultimately, no charges were filed.
In August, Anthony’s family told 12 News she had left the intensive care unit in California and had been continuing her recovery for several weeks in Rhode Island.
Anthony spoke with reporters on Thursday night, revealing she was in the intensive care unit for 18 days and left Natividad Hospital in July. She said she broke 22 ribs and fractured vertebrae in her spine, face, and jaw in several places.
Anthony was sworn into the City Council in 2019. She represents Ward 2, which consists of the Blackstone, College Hill, and Wayland neighborhoods.
Due to her recovery, which has required rehabilitation, medical appointments, and rest, Anthony hasn’t been at a City Council meeting since June 1. She received a round of applause when she walked into Thursday night’s meeting with her family, and again when she said “present” when her name was called.
“People have said it’s a miracle [that I’m alive], and I believe it is,” she said.
Anthony said she received hundreds of cards throughout her recovery and thanked everyone for their support.
Prior to her absence, Anthony had also served on the Rules Committee and chaired both the Finance and Claims and Pending Suits committees. A City Council spokesperson told 12 News that Anthony will remain head of the Finance Committee, but she will step down as chair of the latter.
Anthony learned more about Mayor Brett Smiley’s proposal to shift $20 million of the city’s federal COVID-19 relief funding to housing upon her return.
The Finance Committee will eventually vet that proposal.
“We’ve got so many financial issues that we’re facing and I’m just eager to get back,” Anthony said.
During her absence, Anthony missed out on some key decisions, including the Finance Committee approving Providence’s $583 million city budget. The budget had been vetted by Anthony and other panel members in the weeks prior to her leave. Her colleagues praised Anthony for making the budget process more transparent.
Later in the year, the committee vetted two proposed payment in lieu of taxes agreements, also known as PILOTs. In a Sep. 17 letter to her constituents, Anthony said she wanted to see some of the language strengthened and hoped a supplemental agreement with Brown would be considered separately.
The agreements were considered together and were ultimately both approved by the City Council in a 9-1 vote. Anthony was one of five councilors absent from the vote.