A dad never likes to be awakened by a 6 a.m. message like the one I received on Friday, March 8.
“Your son has been involved in an accident on his bike on his way to work. It was a hit-and-run, and they are taking him to Valley Medical hospital with multiple injuries.”
When I got to the emergency room they informed me that Andrew’s injuries were too severe for their facility, so they were sending him to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. When I arrived at Harborview, I found him in the intensive care unit. He was on a gurney, all wrapped in bedding for warmth and straps to keep him immobile and other things that looked very much like electrodes attached to neck posts as if Dr. Frankenstein were standing over him with a glaring smile, yelling, “He’s alive, he’s alive!”
The nurse had a laundry list of Andrew’s injuries: a broken pelvis, minor brain bleeding, two damaged lower vertebrae, a broken rib and other possible damage. In the face of a difficult situation, I have found from past experiences that it is always best to look on the brighter side of hope.
I leaned down and looked under the bandages covering his eyes, and Andrew said, “Hi, dad.”
It was slow at first. He had successful surgery. He would be on the mend. He would learn how to walk again.
Andrew was at Harborview for two weeks before being sent to a care facility in Auburn.
On the first day that he could receive visitors at Harborview, his first guest was Calvin Watts, a superintendent of the Kent School District, who said visiting him was the most important thing he had to do that day. Mayor Dana Ralph called that same day and left me her private cellphone number in case there was anything that she could do. Maya Vengadasalam, president of the Kent School Board, visited during and after that time, at the hospital and care facility.
Visitors lined up in the hallway at the care facility for a chance to see Andrew. His room drew a crowd. More then once, I would check in, just turn with a wave and went home. There was so much support for Andrew from his work friends and others. That overwhelming support has encouraged his recovery.
Andrew has found great strength in Kent, the city that smiles, his preacher, and God.
Andrew, 47, has worked for the Kent School District for 15 years and has lived in his own home for more than 10 years. He doesn’t drive and rides his three-wheel bike to work at 5:30 every morning. That was what he was doing, going to work, when he was hit. Whoever hit him had no lights on and had to have run off the road to do it. As Andrew, whom police found conscious, and investigators can best surmise, the driver stopped, backed up, got out of the car, stepped over the injured rider, pulled the bike out from under the car’s bumper and drove off.
That person left my son on the side of the road under red flashing lights and regular bike lights until a neighbor saw the flashing and recognized it to be where Andrew rides to work.
Of the person who hit him, Andrew says, “My God will deal with him.”
We seem to live in a different day from when people had a conscience.
Four months later, there has been no arrests. Police have been great, doing what they can do. There were no witnesses, no way to identify the person who plowed into him.
For Andrew, his future appears bright. He has excelled with physical therapy and follows doctor’s orders.
Our family wishes to thank those who established and contributed to a GoFundMe account. That support and insurance have picked up Andrew’s medical costs.
The school district recently called Andrew and his cane – no more wheelchair – to a Kent Food Services meeting just before the summer break and presented him with a new tri-bike, just like the one he was riding when he was struck from behind. No doubt, he will be spending the summer collecting red flashing lights and American flags to adorn his new bike for the first day of school, where he will be taking his place with food services to help feed the kids in what Andrew calls, Kent, the city that smiles.
Don Dinsmore is a longtime Kent resident and contributor to the Kent Reporter.