The last thing David Schroeder saw before losing consciousness was a grey 2011 Chevy Malibu speeding toward him.
When he woke up at Kendall Regional Hospital’s Trauma Center, he was “Trauma Romeo”, a name given to patients that have not been identified.
Schroeder, an English and creative writing professor at Kendall Campus, was struck by a car driven by Vanessa Vela while crossing faculty parking lot 10 at Kendall Campus on Nov. 30, according to police reports.
According to police reports, Vela, a college employee, was driving an estimated 20 miles per hour while using her cell phone. Vela, 29, was making a left turn when she hit Schroeder, propelling him out of his wheelchair.
Police reports state Vela has been charged with careless driving, driving with a suspended license and expired registration, and having no insurance. Vela did not comment when contacted by The Reporter.
Schroeder sustained a fractured femur, and incurred lacerations to his face and head, according to police reports.
“I clearly could see the car and the driver,” Schroeder said. “She was holding a phone on her right hand, I was conscious until that moment.”
Schroeder, 59, said that when he saw the car he noticed the driver was looking at her phone.
“There was no opportunity for me to move,” Schroeder added. “I even paused before crossing because there was a big puddle of water. It wasn’t like I rushed out into traffic.”
Herixdaniel Gonzalez, a volunteer for Access Services at North Campus, witnessed the collision.
“I saw it because I was crossing the sidewalk and saw the car speeding,” Gonzalez said. “I said ‘wow’ then turned and saw the professor, and her car hit him. She was on the phone.”
Gonzalez said he screamed to warn the professor, but it was too late for him to respond. The accident caused Schroeder to go up into the air out of his wheelchair, and to land on the ground, according to police reports. Gonzalez hurried to help Schroeder screaming for someone to call 911.
“His face was in a puddle of water,” Gonzalez said. “He was bleeding through his nose and choking on his blood.”
According to Gonzalez, students surrounded Vela’s car, preventing her from driving away. Students also helped by holding Schroeder’s head up to prevent him from drowning.
Schroeder said more than 100 students sent him “get well wishes.”
“I was appalled that such a tragedy could occur in what is essentially a handicapped parking lot,” said English and Literature Professor Michel De Benedictis. “I don’t understand how anyone paying any attention to driving could be going at such a high rate of speed in what is essentially a dead end area, and not see him.”
After leaving the Trauma Center at Kendall Regional Hospital, Schroeder was moved to Health South Rehabilitation hospital in Cutler Bay. He returned home on Jan. 12 where he will continue physical therapy until he’s fully recuperated.
“I had so much going on,” Schroeder said. “I don’t know how many opportunities I’ve lost in the past two months.”
Schroeder, who has won 32 ‘best screenplay’ awards at various festivals, hopes to get back to Miami Dade College and personal writing soon.
“It’s taken so much out of me,” Schroeder said. “I’ve been teaching for a long time…I have a great passion for my job.”