It was just another day of commuting home after his job as a building engineer at Pixar this past Aug. 21 — except that it wasn’t. Shortly after leaving work, James Andereggen was struck by a vehicle in broad daylight while walking to a nearby bus stop. The accident could have easily claimed his life.
Four months after the accident, The E’ville Eye caught up with Andereggen to provide an update to the community on his recovery progress. He feels fortunate to be celebrating another holiday with his family at home.
“I’m lucky to be alive! I had many staples in the back of my head for a long time. I fortunately didn’t suffer any broken bones, but I’m still suffering from concussion-related injuries,” said Andereggen. “Time will tell how those things heal and I’m hoping they heal, because it’s been a pretty big impact on my lifestyle.”
Since he was 16, Andereggen has held at least one job. Changing pace from working and commuting to sitting at home for nearly three months has been grueling for him.
“At my job [at Pixar], I probably walk 10 miles a day,” said Andereggen. “The doctor’s orders were limit the amount of television, screen time, reading or anything that provokes brain activity. So there I was at home in a chair for two and a half months.”
With some restrictions, Andereggen was able to return back to his job back in mid-October. It didn’t take long for him to run into another Pixar employee who had witnessed his accident.
“This gentleman was walking down the sidewalk path and he looked at me and he says, ‘Oh my god, that’s you. I witnessed your accident! When that guy hit you, it sounded like two vehicles hit each other,’” Andereggen recalled.
Andereggen typically uses the bus stop on Park Avenue as the first leg of his commute back home to Oakley. But that day, he wrapped up work in the northwest corner of the campus closest to the Hollis and 45th stop. He said goodbye to his co-worker and walked towards the intersection.
“Next thing I know, I woke up in an ambulance,” said Andereggen. “I wasn’t on my phone. I didn’t have any headphones on or anything. I looked for cars before I entered the intersection. I guess I was about halfway through the crosswalk when I got hit.”
Andereggen was taken to Highland Hospital where he received a scan that showed bleeding from his brain. Though the injury was significant, he described the way he landed and the area of his head he landed on probably saved his life.
“I landed on the perfect part of my skull,” said Andereggen. “If I would have hit the side of my head that hard, I probably would have died.”
After working and commuting in Emeryville for 10 years, Andereggen has a pretty good handle on which intersections one should avoid. He’s noticed many drivers don’t seem to hesitate before blowing through stop signs around the area of the Pixar campus, where roughly 1,200 employees commute to and from during the work week.
Every single intersection … is so dangerous. There’s no fear of consequences at any of those intersections.
Emeryville City Councilmember John Bauters was coincidentally a witness to Andereggen’s accident and tweeted about the need for more dialogue about traffic calming in the city. Bauters noted at the time that he would request that City Council add pedestrian safety at the intersection to their agenda.
“A discussion took place at the September meeting and staff set it for full discussion at the November meeting,” according to Bauters. “The committee recommended changes to 45th Street that will include the 45th and Hollis intersection and it’s headed to the BPAC (Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee) for review. Those changes include lighting, bike lanes, bulb outs at the crossings and other mitigation.”
Andereggen believes the lack of traffic enforcement is the primary reason people aren’t thinking twice about breaking traffic laws. His claims received further validation with a hit-and-run involving a cyclist just a block from the Pixar entrance on Sunday.
Yet another victim of traffic violence!
This gentleman went on a bike ride right before Christmas and ended up in the emergency room. The coward who hit him sped off. pic.twitter.com/41BnLBPk00
— Jean Walsh (@jwalshie) December 22, 2019
“I call [45th and Hollis] my ‘bad luck intersection’, so I try not to go there,” said Andereggen. “Every single intersection — whether it’s 45th and Hollis, 45th and Doyle, or the one in front of Pixar on Park Avenue — is so dangerous. There’s no fear of consequences at any of those intersections.”