Blind man sentenced in attack on car that nearly struck him

Folded, long walking cane. Mobility tool for blind and visionally impaired people. (Picture: Wikimedia Commons / Sarah Chester). (Folded, long walking cane. Mobility tool for blind and visionally impaired people. (Picture: Wikimedia Commons / Sarah Chester))

The visually impaired and mentally challenged 71-year old Teun van der Velden from Gemert, Noord Brabant received 60 hours of community service for the damage he caused with his cane to a car and a fellow townsman in November last year, AD reported on Monday. The judge found him guilty of damaging property, and ruled him to also pay over 500 euros for the injury he caused to a local resident by waving his cane. 

Last November, van der Velden was crossing a road in his hometown, wearing an orange reflective vest and holding his white cane on the street marking his intentions to go across the road, according to the Gelderlander. At the same time, a motorist passed van der Velden missing by a few inches, startling the blind man, and leading him to wave his cane, striking the vehicle in the process.

Visually impaired people always have the right-of-way in traffic, AD noted.

The driver continued on past him only to come back moments later to confront and take hold of the man, who was also suffering from uncontrollable muscle movement at the time, according to his family. Van der Velden swung his cane when he was taken hold of and says he accidentally hit the other man in the head, knocking his glasses to the ground.

"They say I knocked his glasses off and kicked him in the knee. There were then more people [at the scene]. I wanted to get away from there. A woman came after me to take my cane," van der Velden told AD.

The driver called the police who arrived to the scene with sirens and blue lights flashing. From the police car, van der Velden pressed the "panic button" on his phone which automatically dialed his brother and sister.

"I explained that he is a man with limitations," van der Velden's brother told the police after arriving to the scene, the Gelderlander writes. "I received no response [from officers] and there is nothing in the record," the brother adds. Together van der Velden's brother and sister say they tried to make it clear to the police that he is disabled, but to no avail.

Van der Velden was put in a cell all by himself. Later the brother filed a complaint against the Gemert police.

The incident did not break van der Velden's spirit, and he still goes for long strolls outside. "Walking is his hobby," his sister added