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How an accident pushed one Orlando woman into the intersection of our city's professional-incest machine...
Published: February 23, 2012
It’s a bustling Monday evening at the corner of Orange Avenue and Central Boulevard. The silent Central Florida News 13 Jumbotron on the side of the Wells Fargo building lights up the night with worry and weather. Lawyers – and those who love them – wander by their Wall Street habitat. It’s rush hour, so the cars are maneuvering their respective routes in any way that they can.
Abbey Pfeiffer, 24, crosses Orange Avenue with trepidation. She waves. She frowns. She walks. “I wait for the little white walk guy,” she says as she makes it across the road. “I’m still a little traumatized.”
Pfeiffer has reason to be nervous. Nearly two years ago, she was the victim of a life-changing accident at this same intersection. It was nearly midnight on Sunday, March 14, 2010, when she stepped into Jimmy John’s on Orange Avenue for sandwiches. She wasn’t out drinking, she says, but getting ready for a romantic night in with her ex-boyfriend. He wanted a turkey sandwich, she opted for a B.L.T. A couple of sodas later and she was out the door.
At 11:54 p.m., she made her way across Orange to her blue Mini Cooper, which she had parked illegally on Central. She was in a rush to beat parking enforcement, but – as surveillance video from the busy intersection shows – she stepped purposefully, but with reasonable caution, into the three-lane street. She waited for the walk signal and stayed in the crosswalk, but just as she passed into the third lane, nearing her curb destination, she turned to face headlights and a vehicle struck her head-on. The vehicle was one of local entrepreneur Corey Lamb’s O-Cartz – glorified electric golf carts that seat five passengers, leased from Chrysler Financial Services (now TD Auto Finance) to cart tourists and partiers around downtown. Pfeiffer’s sandwiches and drinks flew into the air; people streamed out of bars; Pfeiffer crashed to the ground. “All I remember is that my head was in the windshield. [O-Cartz driver Andrew Campbell] comes around and everybody’s like, ‘Are you OK?’ and he starts yelling at me: ‘Why were you in the middle of the road?’” she says. “Then I was leaning against somebody’s Porsche and the owner showed up and said, ‘Get off my car. I got to move.’”
The problem is, she couldn’t. The incident had fractured the patella in Pfeiffer’s left knee. She initially refused an ambulance, fearing the cost and – as she was in shock – underestimating her injury.
Soon after, Pfeiffer’s prospective date for the evening showed up at the scene and took her to Orlando Regional Medical Center on South Orange Avenue (he also helped retrieve her car, which was impounded shortly after the accident).
That moment would be just the beginning of an ordeal involving two surgeries, two bouts of physical therapy, two celebrity lawyers, one entrepreneur with connections, Orlando city government and a nonprofit created to teach inner city kids the joys of skateboarding and surfing. Her accident happened at the crossroads of Orlando downtown life, and now her case is stuck at the intersection of Orlando’s downtown professional-incest machine.
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