Monday, September 18, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Blind inventor killed crossing Oregon highway

The Associated Press

GLIDE, Ore. – A blind man who invented curbside markers to help the sight impaired was struck and killed while crossing a highway, the authorities said.

Kevin Stockton, 47, of Glide was hit by a van traveling on Highway 138 East and then by a pickup, the Oregon State Police said. Stockton died at the scene Friday night, and neither driver was injured, police said.

Stockton developed Blind Signs, curbside markers that help blind people cross the street. Earlier this year, Roseburg completed a two-year project to install 82 of the markers at intersections throughout the city.

"He developed Blind Signs to keep stuff like this from happening, and this is a hell of a way for the point to get across," his wife, Emmy, told the (Roseburg) News-Review.

Stockton was shot in the head by a high-powered rifle seven years ago, leaving him completely blind, hard of hearing and prone to seizures.

After a harrowing experience trying to cross a Portland street, he decided to make a way-finding device that would be cheap and functional. His idea was simple: place a series of bumps pointed directly toward a crosswalk. Walkers feel the bumps with their cane or their feet, and are then able to aim themselves correctly to cross the street. The design can be readily identified by the blind and can also be used to indicate the location of bus stops.

Emmy Stockton speculated that her husband became disoriented and wandered out to the middle of the road. "He got upset because he was trying to fix something at home," she said. "He decided to try and go for a walk and do something to be independent, and that's what led up to the accident."

State police are still investigating the crash.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company


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