Doctors see rise in scooter-related injuries in Fort Lauderdale

Teen injured in latest incident remains in critical condition

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A 14-year-old boy remains hospitalized Wednesday in critical condition after he was hit while riding an electric scooter in Fort Lauderdale. 

Police said the driver took off after the incident, and it's just the latest in a series of recent scooter crashes. 

Doctors at the emergency department at Broward Health Medical Center said they're seeing anywhere from five to 10 cases related to electric scooters every week.

They're the new way to get around Fort Lauderdale and you can find hundreds of them throughout the city.

But now there are major questions about the safety of electric scooters as the number of accidents continues to pile up.

"I was driving eastbound on 17th Street, right by the old Waxy O'Connors, and there's that green fence there that you can't see through," said Andrew Peluso, who was struck by a car while scootering. 

Peluso said he was riding a scooter on the sidewalk in Fort Lauderdale when he was hit by a car that was trying to turn onto the street.

"We couldn't see each other," Peluso said. "I couldn't see the car coming out and we just happened to, by lack of luck, just collide and (it) threw me over into the road there onto 17th Street, into traffic."

Peluso's only injuries were some bruises, but others haven’t been so lucky.

Surveillance video shows rescue crews rushing to the scene early Saturday morning when the 14-year-old boy was hit by a car.

Police said he and some friends had been riding their scooters south in the northbound lanes of Federal Highway when a maroon sedan hit him and kept driving.

The teen was rushed to Broward Health Medical Center, where he's still in critical condition.

"We've seen a trend of increased number of traumas that have come in," said Dr. Jason Mansour, assistant medical director of Broward Health Medical Center’s Emergency Department. 

Mansour says they've seen everything from cuts, bumps and bruises to broken bones and head trauma from accidents involving scooters.

And he wants to send a message to people who aren't taking their safety seriously.

"Don't ride the scooters when you're intoxicated -- things like that. That's just common sense. You don't need to hear that from a doctor," Mansour said. 

Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue officials said because they've been getting such a high volume of calls related to scooters, they started tracking them on Dec. 1 and have averaged a call a day since then.

City officials said they are going to be evaluating its scooter program more in a few months.

For now, doctors say to be sure you're wearing a helmet and other safety equipment, if you plan to take one for a spin.

Below is a statement from the city of Fort Lauderdale regarding scooter riding:

"Whether you are walking, driving, biking, jogging, or even riding a scooter, we want to remind everyone about the importance of avoiding distractions and being aware of your surroundings. Drivers, pedestrians and scooter riders should keep their eyes and ears on the road and stay alert.

"We encourage parents to discuss transportation options with their families and children, exercise proper supervision, and ensure they understand and adhere to proper policies and guidelines, while respecting the rules of the road.  

"By doing so, we can all work together to help avoid injuries and accidents and save lives. The City Commission plans to evaluate the dockless mobility permit program in greater detail in February. In the meantime, we continue to work with the permitted operators to further educate and inform riders about proper rules and regulations, as well as to explore additional ways to enhance safety including potentially implementing geographic boundaries, establishing specific operating hours, and designating parking areas to help keep our sidewalks clear."


About the Author:

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.