Updated Nov. 9
Friends of the Tisbury Council on Aging president Virginia Iverson remained in critical condition Wednesday at Massachusetts General Hospital after she was struck by a Toyota Highlander on State Road Oct. 31.
Ms. Iverson’s daughter, Katherine Young, told The Times her mother is unconscious but stable in the neurological ICU at Massachusetts General Hospital. She was quick to commend the “amazing” medical staff caring for her mother. “They’ve been exceptionally communicative and very supportive,” she said.
Ms. Young flew into Boston last Thursday afternoon from Rome, where she teaches and counsels at a boarding school. She said she learned about the accident about two hours after it occurred, and that it’s her understanding that her mother was thrown 12 to 13 feet.
“We’re all shocked,” Tisbury Council on aging activities director Sandy Whitworth said. Ms. Whitworth described Ms. Iverson as “unflappable,” “always cheery,” and an “ardent gardener” who spearheaded the installation of ornamental plantings around the senior center property. She also teaches a yoga class for seniors, she said.
Ms. Iverson had been outside weeding the council gardens not long before the accident, Ms. Whitworth said.
Ms. Young said she and her mother came to the Island from Pittsburgh in 1979. Ms. Young went on to graduate from MVRHS in 1985. One of the first places on-Island that her mother worked was the former Boston Seaman’s Friend Society Bethel in Vineyard Haven. She later worked as a professional gardener. A staunch supporter of public transportation, her daughter noted that her mother has consistently taken the bus or walked to get where she needs to on the Vineyard. “She’s never had a car on the Island,” she said.
Ms. Iverson is visually impaired, her daughter said, but she comports herself in such fluid manner that the disability is hard to detect. She is exceptionally careful about using crosswalks, Ms. Young said.
Ms. Young said her mother is a lifelong dog lover. One dog many Islanders may recall was Dustin, a rescue mutt from the shelter in Edgartown who went everywhere with Ms. Iverson. At times he roamed by himself in and out of the shops on Main Street in Vineyard Haven, where shopkeepers would dole out dog biscuits to him.
“She is a hail fellow well met,” fellow Friends of the Tisbury Council on Aging officer Bruce Doten said Thursday. Mr. Doten also noted how instrumental she was in making the gardens for the council, which he said commemorated the council’s 25th anniversary last year.
“She’s a tireless walker. She can walk the legs off anyone,” he said. He and other colleagues enjoy walking with her on reservation land between Mott Hill Road and John Hoft Road in Vineyard Haven. At the council, “everybody is talking about Virginia — wondering how she is,” he said.
Mr. Doten was with Ms. Iverson at the council prior to the accident. “She said, ‘I’m going for a walk,’ and that’s the last I saw of her,” he said.
Ms. Young thinks her mother was headed to Vineyard Grocer. She has started a blog to keep friends, family and colleagues apprised of her mother’s condition: http://virginiaiverson.blogspot.com/
Ms. Iverson was struck by a Toyota Highlander on State Road near Pine Tree Road and Vineyard Grocer. Immediately three good Samaritans, including an off-duty Edgartown EMT, rushed to her aid. She was taken to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital before being airlifted to Massachusetts General.
State Trooper Dustin Shaw is investigating the crash in conjunction with the Massachusetts State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section. No charges have been filed against the driver, an unidentified 74-year-old male from Oak Bluffs; that driver was allowed to keep the Highlander after it underwent testing, a State Police spokesman said Monday. The Highlander received damage to its hood and grill, a State Police spokesman said Thursday. The spokesman also said the driver remained on scene after the accident and cooperated with police. Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section personnel will compare data they’ve gathered with the driver’s statement and accounts from witnesses in their investigation process, the spokesman said.
Ms. Young said her uncle is flying in from Texas to be with her, and that she’s been staying with a friend in Boston when not with her mother. Her voice broke when asked how she’s coping. “I feel all the emotion you can imagine,” she said.
Updated to include additional information from the Massachusetts State Police