An 83-year-old woman who last week accidentally drove her car into a wall while leaving a hardware store in Northwest Washington’s Tenleytown neighborhood has died of her injuries, according to her family and D.C. police.
Phyllis Pearl Feld, who grew up in California and moved to the District about 15 years ago in large part to be close to her grandson, died at George Washington University Hospital. Her daughter, Carole Feld, said her injuries were serious but did not at first appear to be life-threatening. She died Tuesday, six days after the May 7 accident.
“It is so tragic,” said Carole Feld, who lives in Washington.”I was worried she would never be able to drive again. I didn’t know she wouldn’t be alive.”
The accident occurred about 7 p.m. as Feld was pulling out of a parking structure in the rear of the Ace Hardware off Wisconsin Avenue in Northwest, north of the Tenleytown Metro station. Carole Feld said it appears her mother accidentally pressed on the gas pedal instead of the brake and hit the wall of a church.
Carole Feld said a bystander called her using her mother’s phone and stayed with her until police and paramedics arrived. She was taken to a hospital and was put in intensive care. She had broken ribs and other injuries, her daughter said, but was alert and talking. Carole Feld said the next day she assessed damage to the car and charged her mother’s cell phone, but Feld took a quick turn for the worse and was unable to talk after her first day in the hospital.
Carole Feld described her mother as an excellent driver who loved her gray Toyota Avalon and had recently passed a driving test.
Phyllis Feld’s parents were Jewish immigrants from the Ukraine who had lived in Chicago. She lived in Los Angeles and championed social causes, ran a senior service outreach center in Venice Beach and was the chief steward for a worker’s union.
Carole Feld said her mother was a fixture in her neighborhood near the U.S. Naval Observatory, and was known simply as “Pearl.” Said her daughter: “She was a role model for a lot of people. Everywhere I went, people would say, ‘I love your mom.’ ”
Feld moved to Washington to be close to her grandson, Alexander Levy, 18, who is graduating from Georgetown Day School in a few weeks. Her son, Joshua S. Feld, died from leukemia in 1993 at age 37. Her husband, Harold Feld, died in 1983.
Carole Feld is a former senior executive with Public Broadcasting Service; her husband is David C. Levy, president of Sotheby’s Institute of Art and former director of the Corcoran Gallery of Art.
Carole Feld said services for her mother will be held in Los Angeles.