One amputation, 20 broken bones, 11 surgeries and several months of physical therapy later, Southland bicyclist Damian Kevitt on Sunday finished the ride that nearly killed him.
After surviving a collision with a minivan that dragged him across the 5 Freeway and left him for dead in February 2013, Kevitt organized a charity ride called Finish the Ride to raise money and awareness for what he and his supporters are calling Los Angeles’ hit-and-run epidemic.
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“I fought every foot of the way to get free and stay alive,” Kevitt said, after Sunday’s ride. “The result is I’m here today, and we’re taking the subject of bicycle safety and hit-and-runs and we’re making this a real issue that’s being changed.”
Working with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC), Kevitt said money from the charity ride will benefit the Challenged Athletes Foundation. He told NBC4 that he is projecting more than $50,000 will be raised to spread hit-and-run awareness and to help wounded warriors or injured athletes get active again.
Kevitt, 36, was struck in Griffith Park and dragged for 600 feet under the car and onto the 5 Freeway. After he rolled free of the car, another driver stopped mid-freeway to help him. His right leg was amputated below the knee in surgery, and his left foot may have to be amputated too, according to cycling advocacy blog Biking in LA.
Kevitt also has been working closely with Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), who has authored legislation related to hit-and-run incidents, and Councilman Tom LaBonge, who has offered a $25,000 reward from the city of Los Angeles for information that could help hunt down Kevitt’s at-large assailant.
“The reason we’re here today is because he made it through,” added Kevitt’s wife, Grace Kevitt, who was also on hand for the event. “All that guy had to do was stop the car. And that’s the message we’re giving: If you hit somebody, stop the car.”
Kevitt finished the six-mile ride -- which he called symbolic and meaningful -- that he started more than one year ago with warm weather, a prosthetic limb and scads of supporters.
The bicyclist said that he has had to endure more than a year of physical rehabilitation because of an amputated right leg and counseling to allow him to not only ride a bike again, but also to stomach riding near Griffith Park, where he was hit.
“It’s been an emotional journey for me,” he said. “But as I crossed that finish line, it was just pure elation.”