Alex Kazandjian, a senior, and his six-month-old service dog Toby, a German Shepherd, were struck by a car while crossing Anderson Street at approximately 10 p.m. Wednesday.
Kazandjian was taken to the hospital via Emergency Medical Services while his friends took Toby to an emergency veterinarian. Both sustained minor injuries— Kazandjian said he has abrasions on his right leg as well as an injured hand, and his dog is limping with so far undetermined injuries to his growth plate.
Kazandjian was in a wheelchair at the time of the incident, a result of breaking his femur two weeks ago. Prior to that injury, he said that Toby assisted him with walking and correcting his stride.
He said he had been at the Devil's Bistro restaurant and was crossing the street to return to his apartment. He noticed a far-away car before he left the curb, but the car still did not show indications of deceleration by the time Kazandjian had neared the other side, he said.
"I let go of Toby's leash and back up in my wheelchair as fast as I can," Kazandjian said. " All I can think in that moment is, my dog is dead. I was panicking. I was right in front of the car before I backed up. He would have hit me dead."
According to the police report, the driver of the vehicle that hit Kazandjian and Toby is Sean Carson Leroy Bannister of Durham.
Kazandjian said that Bannister parked nearby after hitting him and only got out of the car after police requested him to. An officer who had been at the Anderson bus stop had called for additional police services.
"[Bannister] asked me if I was hurt and was mostly worried about what would happen to him," Kazandjian said. "I was furious. He had hit my puppy and that scared me."
Sharif Labban, a senior and friend of Kazandjian's, received a phone call from another friend informing him of the incident at 10:20 p.m.. Labban's girlfriend Ashley Mooney—co-editor of Towerview Magazine—is a pre-veterinary student with experience shadowing surgeries, Labban said, and examined the dog to see if he could be moved.
When it was determined that Toby could safely be transported, he was carried to a truck in which Labban rode with him in order to prevent him from moving excessively.
"He was whimpering and uncomfortable, but he wasn’t fighting us," Labban said. "We knew it could have been a lot worse."
Labban said that Kazandjian returned from the hospital emergency room shortly before 4 a.m. to be reunited with Toby.
"[Alex] was on speakerphone at the vet," Labban said. "His primary concern was that Toby was going to be okay."
Kazandjian said he is unsure whether or not he will pursue legal action against Bannister. He did not return to class in the days following the accident, which occurred shortly after his return to school full-time following his femur injury.