Hit-and-Run Victim Is a Pedestrian Safety Advocate

Stephen Grasty, who fronted a 2013 Street Smart campaign, suffers broken leg, vertebra
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 8, 2023 9:36 AM CDT
'Face' of DC Pedestrian Safety Hurt in Hit-and-Run
A District of Columbia Police Car blocks the road near the Washington Monument in an effort to discourage crowds, Sunday, March 22, 2020, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

You could once see Stephen Grasty's face, with a thick black tire mark running from top to bottom, on billboards and buses across Washington, DC. In 2013, Grasty became the face of Street Smart, a pedestrian and bicycle safety campaign that urged drivers to yield to walkers and cyclists when appropriate. As a message next to Grasty's face read at the time, "Pedestrians don't come with airbags." Grasty's mom, Shelly Grasty, couldn't help but see the irony early Sunday when she found her son seriously injured—with road rash across his face—following a hit-and-run in the city, reports the Washington Post. "My son did not deserve this," she tells NBC4.

According to police, the 29-year-old was riding a scooter home from his job as a nightclub manager around 4am when a car veered into him near the Washington Monument. "He was screaming in pain" when he FaceTimed his mother from the scene, Shelly Grasty tells NBC4. When she arrived at the Washington Monument, she found his ear was bleeding, he had road rash across his face, and his shoes had flown off. He was taken to a hospital and treated for a broken leg, foot, and vertebra. His C6 vertebra was "hanging on a hair," his mother tells the Post, though she adds her son has undergone surgery on his neck that should prevent permanent damage.

Police are still investigating. A witness who was driving behind the vehicle that allegedly hit Grasty followed it to Virginia and reported its tag number, according to a police report. The vehicle is described as a possible 2013 Nissan Sentra with Virginia tags, per NBC4. "I just want to thank her for being here and for having the courage to chase this vehicle," Shelly Grasty tells the outlet of the witness. As for the person who hit her son, "I don't know how you're sleeping at night." Clark Mercer, executive director of the nonprofit that runs Street Smart, says the incident involving the program's "marquee face" is "a painful reminder that we can all do more to protect pedestrians and cyclists on our roadways," per the Post. (More Washington, DC stories.)

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