A 90-year-old woman fatally struck by a car while walking her dog in Southwest D.C. Wednesday has been identified as Frances M. Parsons, a deaf woman and long-time professor at D.C.'s Gallaudet University.
A 90-year-old woman fatally struck by a car while walking her dog in Southwest D.C. Wednesday has been identified as Frances M. Parsons, a deaf woman who led a colorful life, spending part of her childhood in Tahiti, earning a college degree in her 40s, and visiting all seven continents -- including Antarctica at age 83.
Parsons was a long-time professor at D.C.'s Gallaudet University, a private university for the deaf and hard of hearing.
A Gallaudet spokesperson said Parsons had taught art history at the school.
Police said Parsons and her dog, Wombet, were walking on an access ramp to the underground parking garage at her apartment building around 3 p.m. Wednesday.
She was hit by a Porsche Cayenne S driven by one of her neighbors as the vehicle emerged from the underground parking garage at their building, Town Square Towers, in the 700 block of 7th Street SW.
The driver ran into the lobby, where the community's holiday party was about to begin, asking for help.
"Well, he was so distraught," said Barbara Barton, general manger of Town Square Towers and a friend of Parsons. "He was very, very distraught."
Parsons was taken to a hospital, where she died of her injuries.
The dog was not injured and was placed in a shelter after the crash. Valerie Cash, a friend of Parsons, was able to get Wombet released to her custody after some bureaucratic difficulties, since Parsons didn't have any local family.
"She generated a lot of interest over at the animal shelter," Cash said. "...I actually had an opportunity to speak with Ms. Parsons' daughter in California, who actually had to send a notice in writing to the D.C. Humane Society."
Parsons' daughter will take Wombet after she flies in from San Diego.
"She was so close with that dog that if anyone tried, in an aggressive mood, to get close to her, [the dog] would be yapping," Barton said.
Parsons had lived at Town Square Towers for about 20 years and was well-liked, Barton said.
"She was loved," Barton said. "A very sweet loving person, and it's sad that this had to happen. It's very sad."
Authorities were investigating the cause of the accident. The driver has not been charged, and is cooperating with police.
Frances Margaret Parsons was born in 1923 and was identified as deaf from an unknown cause when she was five years old, according to the Gallaudet University Library Deaf Collections and Archives. Both she and her twin sister were enrolled at the California School for the Deaf, although the family moved to Tahiti for six years during the Depression, returning to California only after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Parsons moved to the district in 1943 to attend Gallaudet College (now University) for two years before withdrawing to get married. She raised two daughters and then returned to complete her studies after divorcing, and received a Bachelor of Arts in art history in 1967.
Shortly after, she began tutoring at Gallaudet and then spent 15 years as an associate professor of art history before serving five years as coordinator of International History Collections at Gallaudet.
She retired in 1993, but didn't stop her journeys to teach sign language in countries across the world.
"Frances is an indefatigable traveler, having traveled to each of the seven continents, including Antarctica in 2006 at the age of 83," the archives said.
This is the second fatal accident involving a person walking a dog in the area in recent months. In October, a Woodbridge, Va., woman was killed while walking her dog on a sidewalk.
In that case, the driver of a BMW apparently lost control of his car and ran onto the sidewalk, fatally striking Zenaida Ines Jimenez, 58. Her dog was not injured and was later released to family members.
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