MORGANTOWN, W.Va. An unidentified suspected panhandler is recovering after being hit by a vehicle this week near the Pierpont Centre.

The driver, Steven Carpenter, 57 of Masontown, has been charged with driving under the influence and arraigned with bond set at $5,000. Deputies say Carpenter drove over the median at the intersection of Venture Drive and Cheat Road, striking the man who was standing at the busy intersection.

The incident has brought the ordinance approved by the Monongalia County Commission that prohibits anyone from standing in medians or along busy intersections back to the forefront. County Commissioner Tom Bloom said this is the exact type of incident the ordinance was designed to prevent.

“The three county commissioners are very concerned about not only the person who was hurt but also the person in the car because that was a traumatic experience,” Commissioner Tom Bloom said on WAJR’s “Talk of the Town.”

Commissioners adopted the Pedestrian and Vehicle Safety Ordinance in October 2023. The ordinance calls for a warning on the first offense and up to a $100 fine for each additional infraction.

“Unfortunately, that person broke the law, and I’m sure what will happen,” Bloom said. “It will probably be up to the owners of the property and whatever happened when the police arrived.”

Leading up to the passage of the ordinance, commissioners reported receiving multiple reports of near-miss situations as a result of activity in the median. The commission received reports from the public of a person in a wheelchair who fell into the travel lanes while soliciting from the median and near collisions when motorists stopped to interact with people in the median.

“We had several near misses—we had people fall down to pick up change and roll under a car, but no one had been hit until now,” Bloom said.

Bloom said activity in the medians has fallen off some but has increased with the recent wave of warm weather.

“At times we see a decrease, and then we get a new group of individuals that show up and they’re not from this area,” Bloom said. “They’re either transient or we have some that are regular, and they move from one area to the next.”

All municipalities were involved in the development of the ordinance, and Bloom said he has seen others in the area begin to use it as well. The consistency offered for high-retail areas like Granville and Star City prevents continued police responses when offenders occupy municipal border areas.

“Granville is doing it; I know Star City is doing it, and I’ve been told the city of Morgantown is now working on this issue too,” Bloom said. “All the groups are trying to resolve this issue, and it’s a very simple issue—it’s safety.”