Diane Power and her son Thomas Power were struck and critically injured by a car on Monday while at a Bank of America ATM on Congress Avenue and Hypoluxo Road in Boynton Beach, Florida.
The driver of the vehicle has been identified as Louise Szakacs by Boynton Beach Police. Szakacs, 81, was reportedly pulling her Toyota Camry into a parking space in front of the bank when she lost control of the vehicle and sped over the cement parking stop.
Diane Power, 63, and her son Thomas, 32, were using the ATM directly in front of the parking space Szakacs was pulling into. The car struck Power and pinned her against the wall. Thomas tried to jump out of the car’s way but was run over after it bounced off the wall. The Powers were taken to Delray Trauma Center with severe injuries. One of Ms. Power’s legs had to be amputated, and her son suffered a broken arm and leg, sources say.
“As he was getting out, we heard a scream, a big boom. We got out of the car and we looked back and we heard the lady saying, ‘help me, help me, help me.’” Kristle Mounds, who witnessed the crash, told WPTV. “Me and my son we were just shocked. I didn’t know what to do. I just started screaming. Everybody was standing out looking at her.”
Szakacs was reportedly cited for careless driving. She was unable to tell investigators what happened. Investigators are trying to determine if she confused the gas pedal for the break or if there another cause for the crash. Charges against her are pending the outcome of the investigation.
State records show that Szakacs received a ticket three months ago for running a stop sign. Her driver’s license is up for renewal next year. She passed the eye exam of her last driving test seven years ago with corrective lenses.
Diane Power’s daughter told WPTV that she’s not angry at Szakacs. She blames the state legislature for not better regulating older drivers and would like to attempt to get state laws changed. She wants elderly drivers to take driving tests yearly.
According to the AAA, elderly drivers are four times more likely to cause traffic accidents. A 2012 report by the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies revealed that Florida has the highest number of traffic fatalities involving drivers aged 65 or older. 503 fatalities were reported in the state in 2010. Texas was second on the list with 397 fatalities.
Senior crash rates are expected to get worse as the elderly population grows. The Baby Boomers began turning 65 in 2011, and over the next 15 years, the population of Americans aged 65 and older is expected to grow by 60 percent. The Florida legislature requires anyone over 80 to renew their license every six years instead of eight and pass a vision exam, but some believe the rules are not strict enough.