Injury from Cart Accident Prompts Tighter Regulations

In an incident that may tighten the rules for use of the electric carts regularly seen zigzagging around and between pedestrians on campus, one student was seriously injured in a freak accident April 14.

Glendale student Art Sogomonyan, 20, was seriously injured by an electric cart at 10:30 a.m. that day while helping with the Alpha Gamma Sigma book sale.

AGS, a state honor society, was setting up it’s end-of-the-semester book sale, a regular fund-raiser. Sogomonyan was about to head home after his physical education class when he saw his fiancÇe, vice president of AGS, Amy Latshikyan, setting up the sale with other society members.

Sogomonyan volunteered to help transport boxes of books from the basement of the administration building to sale site in front of the first floor of the library building.

Latshikyan had asked to borrow a cart from one of the custodians on campus in order to save time transporting the boxes and was surprised when the custodian brought back an electric cart instead of a manual pushcart.

She felt unsure about operating the cart so another AGS member, who asked for anonymity, volunteered to drive the cart. No one present at the time was aware that the volunteer driver did not possess a driver’s license.

Sogomonyan directed the driver of the cart near the staircase on the eastside of the administration building. He told the driver to stop so he could load the boxes onto the cart, but the driver accidentally stepped on the gas pedal and backed into Sogomonyan at a fairly high speed.

“Electric carts tend to kick in power really quickly,” said Dan Padilla, manager of maintenance and operations.

The cart struck him across the shins, and his legs were crushed between the back of the cart and the staircase.

Police cadet Carlos Gonzales arrived at the scene shortly after and called an ambulance.

Although there was no blood at the scene, the injuries were serious.

Sogomonyan received three fractures to his left leg. His calf bone – the fibula – sustained two fractures, and his shinbone – the tibia – was also fractured. His right leg was also deeply wounded, even though his injury was not very visible since most of the damage occurred beneath the skin.

Sogomonyan was taken to Glendale Adventist Hospital, where his care was to be covered by the college’s insurance.

The hospital performed surgery on him the next day – Easter Sunday.

The surgery involved drilling a hole directly below his kneecap and inserting metal rod into his shinbone.

“He’s very depressed because he won’t be able to walk for the next six months, and there is no guarantee that he’ll be OK afterwards,” said Latshikyan.

Sogomonyan, a computer science major, has been unable to attend his classes, but the disabled student center made arrangements to have tutors visit his home. He also takes his tests at home under the supervision of a college employee.

“They’re providing me with everything I need,” said Sogomonyan.

The accident is changing the way many things are done on campus.

“The incident made us aware that there is no current policy regarding the safety operations of the trams,” said Lew Lewis, director of facilities.

The college is currently drafting a new safety policy that will probably require every tram or cart operator to be formally trained and certified to use the vehicles with safety procedures in mind.

“It’ll be like a driver’s license,” said Lewis. If you don’t have it, you can’t use it.”

Until the policy is officially approved, Lewis said that “he would not authorize the use of a tram unless [the driver] is an employee, faculty, staff member or student worker who has a California or out-of-state driver’s license.”

Mary Mirch, associate dean of health services, also hopes to make student accident insurance forms available to Campus Police in order to prevent students from being denied medical attention after a campus accident. Sogomonyan was initially denied medical care because his insurance would not cover the accident, and the hospital was unaware that he would be covered by the college’s insurance.

“Usually, the hospital takes care of the injury and contacts us about billing later,” said Mirch. “We [at health services] were appalled that the hospital refused to perform the surgery [on the day of the accident].”

Sogomonyan seems to be recovering satisfactorily.

“During the first three weeks, I was in a lot of pain, and I was on a lot of medication,” he said. “But a lot of the pain is gone. Things are a lot better now.

“Things could have been a lot worse. The cart was really close to hitting Amy.”

drafting a new safety policy that will probably require every tram or cart operator to be formally trained and certified to use the vehicles with safety procedures in mind.

“It’ll be like a driver’s license,” said Lewis. If you don’t have it, you can’t use it.”

Until the policy is officially approved, Lewis said that “he would not authorize the use of a tram unless [the driver] is an employee, faculty, staff member or student worker who has a California or out-of-state driver’s license.”

Mary Mirch, associate dean of health services, also hopes to make student accident insurance forms available to Campus Police in order to prevent students from being denied medical attention after a campus accident. Sogomonyan was initially denied medical care because his insurance would not cover the accident, and the hospital was unaware that he would be covered by the college’s insurance.

“Usually, the hospital takes care of the injury and contacts us about billing later,” said Mirch. “We [at health services] were appalled that the hospital refused to perform the surgery [on the day of the accident].”

Sogomonyan seems to be recovering satisfactorily.

“During the first three weeks, I was in a lot of pain, and I was on a lot of medication,” he said. “But a lot of the pain is gone. Things are a lot better now.

“Things could have been a lot worse. The cart was really close to hitting Amy.”