Bessemer City family fight for safer crosswalk after pastor hit by car
A Bessemer City family wants to see changes made to a crosswalk where a beloved pastor, grandfather and father were nearly killed after being hit by a car last year.
“We believe in a miracle for him and we want to prevent other families from going through what we went through,” said James Midgett, son-in-law of Pastor Bobby Ray, who was beaten on February 22 last year.
Ray, now 72, was hit by a car shortly after 8 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, as he attempted to cross West Virginia Avenue to drive his grandson home from martial arts practice boy.
The family requested that LED crosswalk signs be installed on the crosswalk to improve the visibility of pedestrians at the crosswalk.
Midgett says the family learned that two other people had been hit by cars at the crosswalk, on two different occasions, in the space of eight months.
One included a child from the Cavender Taekwondo School across the street, who survived with injuries. Another person was killed after being hit by a car.
“People are always speeding through this area and not paying attention,” said Pastor Ray’s daughter and Midgett’s wife, Shannon Midgett.
“I’ve spoken to city council members in big cities like Carolina Beach and they’ve seen the traffic reduced with these LED crosswalk signs,” James said. “I feel like it’s the least the city can do.”
The family has reached out to Bessemer City Mayor Becky S. Smith to find out what can be done to install the LED crosswalk signs and hope to hear back soon.
“We have planned a peaceful protest on Feb. 22 for the anniversary near the crosswalk,” James said. “Hopefully we won’t have to protest, but we will if we’re not able to get a response from the city.”
The cost of LED crosswalk signs range from $2,500 to $3,000, James says. He also says he would be willing to raise funds and pay for them himself if the city allowed the facility.
This month last year, Ray was seriously injured after being hit by a car, according to police and witnesses.
James says Ray’s grandson saw Ray fly more than 140 feet from the crosswalk after being hit by the vehicle. His grandson immediately called James’ stepdaughter and Ray’s granddaughter, Tiffany Petty, and ran to his martial arts instructor for help.
Upon arrival at the CaroMont Regional Medical Center, the family received numerous reports from doctors indicating that Ray would need a miracle to survive.
“We told them a miracle was what we were going to get and we did it,” Petty said.
Ray’s injuries included the fracture of two vertebrae in his neck and cracked ribs after being punched.
James says Ray remains in a vegetative state and doctors continue to see brain activity with no evidence of brain damage.
The family has come together to serve and maintain Ray’s legacy and ministry at the Assembly of Faith Church which he and his wife founded in 1982, located at 1108 Lower Dallas Road.
Petty has even taken up preaching, taking over Ray’s old Bible classes and more.
“We believe in his healing,” Petty said. “We believe in Jesus and we believe in faith in what he can do.”
“He’s making progress like waking up sometimes, recognizing a few of us and following us with his eyes,” James said. “He is still fighting for his life on a ventilator, but we remain true to our faith.”
James says the family spent more than $500,000 investing in Ray’s recovery through rehabilitation and medical expenses.
The family wants to protect other families in the community from the pain they’ve been through, Petty says.
“I encourage anyone in situations like this to continue to have faith in God,” Petty said. “That’s what we did and we’re going to see a miracle.”
The family also plans to hold a community event at 5 p.m. on Saturday, February 5 at the Assembly of Faith Church to rally support for the miracle of Pastor Ray’s healing.
Contact Janiya Winchester at 704-869-1842 or [email protected]
This article originally appeared on The Gaston Gazette: Family fights for change after Bessemer town pastor knocks at crosswalk