Refugee injured by hit-and-run driver


by MEG COYLE / KING 5 News

Posted on November 2, 2009 at 8:06 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 2 at 8:06 PM

SEATTLE - A refugee from Bhutan is recovering at Harborview Medical Center after she was critically injured in a hit-and-run accident.

Local relief agencies say they see at least a few accidents a year involving refugees who may not understand the rules of the road.

They've come to this country to start over. That means learning a new culture, a new language, and finding a job. But the hardest part for many of these refugees may just be crossing the street.

"She's doing better now, she's getting well," said Bhakti Timsina, who hasn't left her sister Narmada's bedside since last week when she was hit by a car just outside the family's apartment along Benson Road in Kent.

It was 5 a.m. Narmada had just left for work. She was crossing the five-lane road heading toward the bus stop when she was hit.

Bhakti saw the flashing lights outside apartment window. She ran down to the road to find her sister.

"She's been hit by a car and I don't know any condition. I just see her clothes," said Timsina.

Narmada had been airlifted to Harborview Medical Center.

Sadly these kinds of accidents involving refugees are becoming more common.

The families came with nothing when the U.N. re-settled them here. Narmada's family had spent the last 17 years in a refugee camp in Nepal. So our rules of the road in this country are completely foreign to them.

"It's really hard if you're not growing up around cars, if you don't drive yourself, there's a lot we take for granted," said Vanessa Reaves with World Relief.

Busy Benson Road is not designed for high foot traffic. There are blind corners, fast drivers, and no crosswalks within a half mile of the Kentwood Apartments.

The Timsina family already struggles just to get by in their new country. A family that has survived so much is now facing an even bigger challenge.

The driver who hit Narmada did eventually turn himself in to police.

Narmada works at a fish processing plant that pays minimum wage but no health benefits.

If you'd like to help the family pay for her medical bills, contact World Relief at 206-587-0234.