An extended highway to restoration
Crash survivor learns to stroll once more as neighborhood rallies for change
WOONSOCKET – Kim Tanguay solely remembers snippets of the accident that claimed the lifetime of her pal, John Blain, however what she does bear in mind makes her by no means need to get on a motorbike once more.
On June 7, she and Blain had been heading up Diamond Hill Street on his new motorbike when an SUV pulled out out of the blue from Walnut Hill Street in entrance of them. The ensuing crash killed Blain and broke greater than a dozen bones in Tanguay’s physique, together with her pelvis and most of her ribs.
Three months later, her father, Mike, calls her a “strolling miracle.” Anticipated not to have the ability to stroll for no less than a yr, she was discharged from rehab in July and began transferring round on crutches final week. The method, she mentioned, has been mentally exhausting, however with a strong assist community and good medical care, she’s trying ahead to with the ability to stroll once more.
On the similar time, Blain’s household and mates have been on their very own journey of restoration advocating for change on the intersection that took his life. A resident of North Smithfield, Blain attended the Woonsocket Space Profession and Technical Middle and was finding out to change into an electrician. Images and plaques on the website of the crash pay tribute to the person many described as a “huge teddy bear” with a smile for everybody.
“I don’t know why it’s simply me that lived, it doesn’t make any sense,” mentioned Tanguay.
The pair met a number of years in the past when Blain dated certainly one of her mates. A local of Cumberland, Tanguay mentioned she typically bumped into him round Woonsocket, and the 2 maintained an off-the-cuff friendship through the years.
On the morning of June 7, they had been each at Christopher’s Kitchen & Bar, the place her boyfriend, Wesley, manages the bar. Blain, a lifelong motorbike fanatic, had simply gotten the bike a number of weeks earlier and supplied to take her for a trip. He ran residence to get her a helmet, and so they set out for Diamond Hill Reservoir, approaching the intersection alongside the way in which.
“It simply all occurred all so quick,” she mentioned. “I by no means thought this could occur ever.”
Police cited the driving force of the SUV for failing to yield the suitable of approach, calling the incident a “tragic accident.” Blain’s household, together with his mom, Jennifer, consider that two ornamental partitions on the entrance to the Walnut Hill Flats performed a big position in blocking the view of the driving force and contributed to her son’s dying. Jennifer has spent the previous a number of months reaching out to metropolis officers and the proprietor of the condo complicated however mentioned she’s pissed off with the dearth of motion, particularly after a petition began by her son’s pal, Josh Lussier, to take down the wall collected greater than 1,300 signatures.
“Seeing these feedback and realizing what I’ve been via is what drives me to proceed with this till some change is made,” she mentioned.
Within the meantime, the Rhode Island Division of Transportation has launched a site visitors research of the intersection, trying into whether or not a stoplight or different measures might repair the issues with velocity and visibility. Woonsocket Deputy Police Chief Michael Lemoine mentioned final week that research continues to be ongoing and he expects to have a preliminary report within the close to future.
Subsequent Saturday, Sept. 12, Blain’s household and mates will maintain a motorbike run in his reminiscence ranging from Walnut Hill Plaza at 9 a.m. The run will conclude with a dinner and raffles. Proceeds will profit the Johnathan Blain Memorial Scholarship Fund for graduates of WACTC and different native charities.
Although the crash took Blain’s life, it additionally introduced collectively these he left behind. Tanguay mentioned she hadn’t met lots of his motorcycle-riding mates previous to the accident, however they’ve now come to go to her as she recovers in her Woonsocket condo, and he or she plans to see them off on the bike run. The neighborhood, she mentioned, has been unimaginable, from checking in on her standing to donating to a GoFundMe to assist her medical payments.
“She’s acquired 350 individuals who’ve donated to the GoFundMe. You possibly can’t say thanks to everyone,” mentioned Mike.
On Sept. 19, the week after the bike run, a second fundraiser will assist Tanguay’s restoration. The three-part occasion will happen on the Concord Cafe in Manville and the Blackstone River Watershed Council/Associates of the Blackstone Environmental Middle on New River Street and features a canoe paddle, path stroll and cookout. Tanguay’s pal, Brittany Ballantyne, mentioned they organized the occasion to supply completely different choices for folks’s consolation degree through the pandemic.
Each households have an extended highway forward of them as they take care of the aftermath of the accident. However for Tanguay, who some thought may by no means stroll once more, the previous few months have supplied a purpose to hope.
“Nobody thought I’d be the place I used to be,” she mentioned.