A pedestrian using a crosswalk at Five Corners in Vineyard Haven was struck by a pickup truck Monday at around 9:30 pm. The pedestrian, a woman in her late 50s whom police did not name, was struck by a motorist distracted by a popcorn bag, according to Tisbury Police Chief Chris Habekost and a press release.
The woman was taken to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and airlifted, though her condition is not known.
Jao Vitor Goncalves de Oliveira, 22, told police he had just exited Cumberland Farms and was allegedly munching from a bag of popcorn which he looked down at just before striking the pedestrian.
A narrative of the police response described by Sgt. Jeff Day as a “redacted report summary” states that de Oliveira “started to eat the popcorn as he traveled out of the Post Office lot at the southeast side.”
A video of the incident posted on social media shows de Oliveira stop his pickup truck at the end of Lagoon Pond Road and then enter the intersection at Five Corners, striking the woman, who was in the crosswalk. The driver told police “he lost control of his popcorn bag, and momentarily took his eyes off the road and became distracted when he looked down to locate the bag,” the release states. “When he looked up he saw a figure in an orange reflective jacket as his truck struck the pedestrian.”
While the police release states that de Oliveira attempted to help the woman, a video shows him moving his truck into the Cumberland Farms parking lot. Meanwhile, another motorist who came on the scene nearly struck the woman, but stopped.
Police reported that de Oliveira showed “no signs of impairment,” and officers found no alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs in his vehicle. “Goncalves de Oliveira was very apologetic, and inquired several times about the condition of the woman.” His estimated speed at impact was 7 to 10 mph.
According to the press release, de Oliveira was licensed, and his 2003 Dodge pickup was registered and insured.
The woman he hit was seriously injured, according to Tisbury Fire Chief Greg Leland. She was transported to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital by Tisbury EMS, and was airlifted from the Vineyard, Chief Leland said. Chief Habekost said the motorist received two civil citations — impeded operation of a motor vehicle, and failure to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Contrary to what video footage may imply, Chief Habekost said, the incident wasn’t a hit and run. The motorist parked his pickup at Cumberland Farms and remained at the scene, Chief Habekost said.
Chief Habekost said it “looks like a complete accident,” but an accident that is also indicative of improper behavior behind the wheel. Chief Habekost described the accident as an example of widespread distracted driving plaguing the Vineyard these days — ”a very dangerous thing,” he said.
According to police, as of Tuesday evening, all attempts to reach the woman’s family have been unsuccessful.
Updated with more details -Ed.