Sidelined by a Sidewalk- How a Simple Fall is Taking Me Off Track This Summer

Where my fall took place in north Merced.

Where my fall took place in north Merced.

I won’t be playing golf for a while.

A fall on a north Merced sidewalk on a recent summer Sunday morning has taken my activity down a few notches.

There we were: one moment taking in the serenity of a walk together. The next moment changed everything.

Immediately upon hitting the ground, pain shot up from my foot to my hip. I felt numbness in the first minutes following the fall.

The thought that I might suffer some paralysis actually crossed my mind.

My wife was with me and as soon as she felt I could be left alone, she went back to our house to get a car. By the time she returned ten minutes later, I was standing and walking slowly.

During the wait, three motorists passed by me as I was writhing in pain.

No one stopped.

She took me home, and took care of me for the next couple of days. Slowly, walking became easier.

After a couple days rest, some over-the-counter pain relief medication, and treatments of heat and cold to my upper leg, my doctor confirmed our earlier diagnosis.

I suffered a severe sprain of the upper thigh.

But for the next few weeks, I am what you might call sidelined. No daily runs in the morning Merced sun.

Golf might resume when it stops hurting as I take my driver stance. I resumed work after a day-and-a-half sick time. I hate taking sick time.

This longer shot of the street shows at least two other spots where excessive water may pose a safety issue.

This longer shot of the street shows at least two other spots where excessive water may pose a safety issue.

It’s easy to blame myself for not being fully aware of my surroundings.

I slipped on a light layer of sidewalk mud before several years ago. While the earlier fall was not nearly as severe as this latest one, I dropped my guard and did not anticipate a safety hazard.

Whoever is responsible for watering that particular section of grass should share some responsibility. There are no homes directly on the street, but rather a cul-de-sac divided by a wall.

According to the City of Merced, watering is permitted on Sundays. Their website reads: “Addresses ending in even numbers may water on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Addresses ending in odd numbers may water on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays. Watering is allowed before 9 a.m. and/or after 9 p.m. on those days.” The houses across the street had odd numbers.

That would make the side I was on the even side; meaning the sprinklers should not have been on.

But regardless of whether this was the correct day use irrigation, the water in this section was clearly on longer than it needed to be. If mud forms on the sidewalk, water may be forcing dirt from the grass to the pavement.

No one is suing anybody. I hope to continue making progress so that I can eventually resume my daily runs and weekly golf outings.

I sent an email to the City telling them about my concerns. I got a prompt response telling me they would look into it.

They followed up a few days later.

They also directed me to a new app called Merced Connect, available at Google or Apple Playstore, where citizens can report things like the water issue and follow the progress on these issues.

But I urge everyone to check into areas where irrigation systems push dirt onto sidewalks. Adjust the watering times if necessary. Be a good neighbor.

I’ve already forgiven whoever was responsible, especially me. I’ve also forgiven the three motorists who passed by me when I was on the ground and nearly in tears with pain from that fall.

And every morning, I get into my golf stance. Once I can swing without pain, I’m back on the golf course.

It’s safer there.

Steve Newvine lives in Merced.

His murder mystery Ten Minutes to Air is available at