UT freshman badly injured, hospitalized after collision

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Firemen and police officers survey the aftermath of the collision of a bicyclist and a cement truck on June 27.

Photo Credit: Andrew Torrey | Daily Texan Staff

A collision between a student and a cement truck left nutrition freshman Haifa Abubaker with serious injuries.

The crash occurred on Guadalupe Street near the intersection of Dean Keeton Street on June 27.

After the crash, she was quickly taken to Brackenridge Hospital and is now out of the Intensive Care Unit and recovering with her family at the hospital after having a length of one of her legs amputated.

Denis O’Donnell, a former UT liberal arts student and the day manager at Hole in the Wall, was on the scene after the collision and said his friend shouted when the incident happened within view of the bar’s front window.

“It was the most horrific thing I’ve ever seen,” O’Donnell said. “We saw her in the street, and she was conscious and yelling.”

Running back into the bar to get ice and towels, he returned as the Austin Fire Department was arriving on the scene and then told him to stand back, he said.

“It was pretty incredible,” said O’Donnell, who thought they might have already been in the area and arrived at the scene in close to a minute, then collected her and took her away immediately. “It was like, miraculous fast.”

A serviceman who was at Jack in the Box applied his former military training in an act that police and fire department sources say likely saved the 19-year-old’s life when he used his belt as a tourniquet on her bleeding leg.

“He just ran over there ­— ran directly to her. He had something in his hand, I couldn’t tell what it was but he was trying to help her — I assumed it was a tourniquet,” said Harry Thompson, a morning shift server at Kerby Lane Cafe.

Thompson was just getting off his shift at the restaurant when he saw her swept under the front tire of the vehicle and dragged. He thought she might have tried to swerve to avoid the truck and lost balance.

The cement truck was travelling northbound on Guadalupe before it collided with Abubaker. Some sources say she was riding her bike on Guadalupe, while others say she was walking it down the street.

Detective Ron Phillips, who was not at the scene of the accident, said the cause of the collision is unknown, but he thinks the cyclist may not have stopped at a red light.

“We don’t know if she stopped, it appears she was just riding her bike,” Phillips said. “I think she was just shooting straight across.”

Tom Wald, executive director of the Austin League of Bicycling Voters, said major accidents should remind bikers and drivers about the importance of road safety.

“Studies have shown that the fault in the collision is generally mixed — in some cases it’s the motorists and in others it’s the cyclist,” Wald said.

Wald recommends that bikers on a roadway take responsibility for their own visibility as well as being aware of their surroundings.

“There is a matter of fault and there is a matter of taking precautions,” Wald said. “As a cyclist, I think it’s important to go beyond just the legal minimum — having a front and rear light, for example, and selecting your route and that your position on the roadway is visible for motorists.”

Motorists should also take care to observe all foot and bike traffic, he said.

“As a motorist, you want to be attentive to other motorists and to people that are bicyclists and pedestrians, and you can’t take for granted that the roadway is going to be clear,” Wald said.

A representative of Abubaker’s family declined to comment with The Daily Texan.

Updated on 6/6/2011 at 12:55 PM: Cement truck direction traveling northbound.