Owner of Popular Fort Worth Restaurant Hit by SUV

Mike Micallef was struck by an SUV near Reata, the excellent restaurant in downtown Fort Worth restaurant that he owns. He  was standing on the sidewalk with coworkers at the corner of Throckmorton and Sixth Streets at 9:00 a.m. on Monday. Suddenly, a car travelling in the wrong direction hit the SUV, which caused it to jump the curb and almost crush the entire group.

Mike averted a disaster by heroically pushing the others out of the way before he was hit. He sustained a fractured skull, a crushed vertebra, and other serious injuries.

In this sweet photo he posted to his Facebook page, you can see the look of relief on his and his daughter’s face. I’ve seen seen that look before in my 36 years as an auto accident lawyer here in Fort Worth. But Mike should not be in the hospital.

Pedestrian Collisions Are Not Taken Seriously Enough

Police issued a citation to the wrong way driver that caused Monday’s collision. There’s no word on why the driver was driving the wrong way, as the street is clearly marked, or why he didn’t see the giant SUV and apply his brakes.

One thing is known — the driver was extremely negligent.

So is just giving him a traffic ticket enough? That $100 he’ll pay doesn’t have that much deterrent value – to him or to others like him. A man was almost killed. Other people could have been. It’s time for Texas to do more for to protect our safety.

Texas has a poor record here. In 2014, we were ranked the 10th most dangerous state to walk in. In 2013, Texas recorded 481 fatal and 971 incapacitating traffic injuries to pedestrians, accounting for 15 percent of all traffic related fatalities.

I’ve represented a number of pedestrians hit by vehicles over the years. It’s hard to forget the 16-year-old young man who died after being hit by an 18 wheeler as he stood next to a disabled car on I-35, or the veteran who had survived two tours of duty in Iraq but who was wiped out jogging south of Arlington, or the kind man from Alabama who was seriously injured as he and his grand daughter were crossing the street to see Billy Bob’s Texas. I am currently representing a woman who was hit as she crossed the road with her small child, the family of a small girl crossing the road to board her school bus, and other people hit just like Mike was. There’s apparently no end in sight to the stream of injuries.

Why does this happen so often and what can we do about it?

Drivers aren’t paying attention. They are driving from point A to point B as quickly as possible, sometimes with little attention paid to other vehicles and pedestrians. I can attest to this from my running, walking, and cycling on our area roads to exercise.

Our Department of Transportation needs to balance road usage for motorists, cyclists, runners and walkers.

There is some hope. Texas’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan calls for

  • Improving intersections with better signs, signals and crosswalks
  • Creating a calmer flow of traffic to improve the pedestrian environment
  • Building more sidewalks in urban areas
  • Removing pedestrian impediments from existing sidewalks
  • Making pedestrians easier to see with better lighting

Stronger laws, criminal penalties, civil lawsuits, and more education can improve our safety.

I wish Mike a speedy recovery.

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