AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) -
A crash on December 14 left April M. Sims, a 39-year-old homeless woman, dead. She was hit by a vehicle on the 3100 block of Mike Padgett Hwy. at around 6:38 a.m. Friday morning. She was pronounced dead at 7:25 a.m. The cause of death has been listed as blunt force trauma. Unfortunately, this is not the first time a homeless person has been killed in a crash like this, or even on this road. The list of dangers that our homeless population faces daily goes on and on.
Kharleema Tilghman, who has been in and out of homelessness for three years, said, “There’s a lot of dangers just out here walking when you’re by yourself walking places.” Those include walking next to traffic, being exposed to the elements and dealing with other homeless people who might be violent. Tilghman said, “(There’s) a lot of mental illness in this environment too, you know. They do not have anywhere to go.”
Captain Philip Canning, the Area Commander for the Augusta Salvation Army, said, “Unfortunately, they’re used, they’re accommodated to that. They try to be as careful as they can, but it’s just a part of their lives.” These are dangers that many people can never imagine facing every day. Captain Canning said, “The hazards are many, but people are resilient, and people will find a way to survive in conditions that many of us can’t understand.” Tilghman and her three young girls are among the hundreds the Salvation Army sees every night.
In January, Tilghman is moving on her own, and is engaged to be married. She said she will never forget the kindness that got her to where she is today. She said, “I appreciate it and hopefully when I get up I’ll be able to come back and bless a lot of people that are here, because I understand their struggles.” Captain Canning says you can help the homeless population here get to the point that Tilghman is at. It all starts with treating the homeless like you would treat anyone else.
It’s a small reminder that kindness always goes a long way.