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San Antonio Fire Truck Hits, Kills Woman in Wheelchair

SAN ANTONIO -- Diane Rosenbaum always tried to be home before dark after her regular visits to the H-E-B and Dollar General Store on Marbach Road near her apartment.

Because of a degenerative bone disease, Rosenbaum used an electric wheelchair and knew she had to be extra careful navigating traffic, said family members.

A change in her routine -- being out after sunset -- led to tragedy on New Year's Eve when Rosenbaum, 49, was hit and killed by a San Antonio Fire Department brush truck on its way to fight a grass fire.

At 6:45 p.m., Rosenbaum was in the Wells Fargo parking lot at Marbach Road and Horal Street when the driver of the truck pulled in to look at a map, according to a police report.

Witnesses told police that as the truck moved forward out of the lot, Rosenbaum moved into the truck's path. She was caught underneath, and her body was dragged several feet.

San Antonio Police said it appears the driver of the truck, David Johnson, a 32-year veteran of the Fire Department, simply did not see Rosenbaum. Officials called the death accidental.

"It's just a tragedy all the way around," said police spokesman Sgt. Gabe Trevino. "We are investigating at this point. We don't anticipate any charges. It appears that he flat out didn't see her."

District Fire Chief Randy Jenkins said counseling has been made available to Johnson. He said Johnson will undergo a drug test, even though no one suspects he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the incident occurred.

Attempts to contact Johnson were not successful.

Micaela Ramey, 22, and her sister were leaving H-E-B Monday night when they noticed Rosenbaum at the intersection. They said she was a familiar fixture in the neighborhood.

The sisters didn't realize Rosenbaum had been hit until they saw her wheelchair underneath the truck as it sped away, its emergency lights and sirens activated. When they looked back to the parking lot, they saw Rosenbaum's body in the street.

It didn't seem real, Ramey said.

Ramey and other witnesses directed traffic around the body until police and EMS arrived moments later. Ramey said she wanted to put a sweater over Rosenbaum's body because she felt the woman deserved privacy.

"People were stopping just to look," she said.

Several miles away, Johnson realized something was underneath his truck when he saw sparks coming from behind as he neared Loop 410 and U.S. 90, according to a report. He pulled over and saw the wheelchair. When Johnson realized a woman had been hit where he had just been, he returned immediately, officials said.

The wheelchair was left in the grassy median to be collected later.

Rosenbaum's purse was under the seat of the wheelchair, which is why emergency workers found no identification on her body, said her brother Tony Rosenbaum.

He said the family learned of her death around noon Tuesday.

"I want it known that she was a good person and had a heart for everybody," Tony Rosenbaum said. "There was not a mean bone in her. I want to make sure that's what is remembered about her the most."

Diane Rosenbaum left behind two sons: one 15 years old and the other around 30, her brother said.

And while the family knows the death is considered an accident, they still have questions. Was there a momentary lapse in judgment during which the driver could have looked twice?

"I know there's no intention to do anything wrong, but you know you beat yourself to death trying to piece it together to figure out what happened," Tony Rosenbaum said.

mmondo@express-news.net

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