A monthly group bike ride that often occupies the streets of Los Angeles is being dedicated to cyclists who have been victims of hit-and-run collisions, including one particularly horrific incident that left a rider barely alive last month.
The Friday night iteration of Critical Mass – an informal citywide event held on the last Friday of every month – honored Damian Kevitt, who was severely injured after being struck in Griffith Park by a driver who fled.
As hundreds of cyclists rode past Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center Friday night, Kevitt was inside recovering from his ninth surgery. His mother calls him "the miracle man."
"We're very, very lucky that he's alive," Michele Kevitt said.
"My son was on his windshield looking at him, and he sped up to get away," Michele Kevitt said of the hit-and-run driver who seriously injured her son.
Kevitt, 36, was dragged for 600 feet under the car and onto the 5 Freeway on the morning of Sunday, Feb. 17. 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. Some 20 of Kevitt's bones were broken.
The driver of the minivan that hit him never stopped.
"A lot of us have experienced that," bicyclist Keven Escamilla said. "I've been hit by a couple times. I've had a bunch of friends seriously injured. It's always our goal to help out each other."
Friday's ride was "dedicated to Damian Kevitt and all victims of hit and run," according to the LA Critical Mass website.
"This month's ride highlights the need to bring increased attention to the epidemic of hit and run collisions and advocating enhanced penalties for leaving the scene," the ride page states.
Last weekend, a community event was held near the site of the collision to draw focus to Kevitt's injuries and to a $25,000 reward being offered by the city of Los Angeles and the California Highway Patrol for the driver that hit him.
The minivan was described as an early model gray Toyota Sienna with a "for sale" sign in the rear window.
Critical Mass rides are held in cities across the country; Los Angeles' ride starts at about 7:30 p.m. and travels a varying course through the city.