At that instant, surfer
In his split-second distraction, Keith had crossed the bike lane. To his horror, he saw Sovilla's body flying through the air. "I thought he wasn't going to survive," said Keith, 46, who lives in
Right then, fortuitously, two medics also out for a ride happened to pedal up. While they tended to Sovilla, Keith stood by helplessly -- distraught, crying, shivering.
Sovilla, 62, remembers none of that.
"The next thing I knew, I was being loaded into an ambulance," said the La Habra resident, who owns a machine shop. "I had excruciating pain in my pelvis."
Remarkably, Sovilla did not suffer a brain injury. But months later, he is still recovering from severe hip and knee injuries. He spent 33 days in the hospital and continues intense physical therapy.
And, he abruptly had to give up his beloved 60-mile bike rides -- a hobby avidly embraced just two years before.
Loss of mobility, loss of work time, loss of life as he knew it -- all that, yet Sovilla never felt a pinch of anger at the person responsible.
"Jack made a mistake -- I've been distracted before and veered into the next lane," Sovilla said. "Do I wish it hadn't happened? Yeah. But it did."
Meanwhile, Keith, who was not cited for the accident, frantically tried to find out what had become of his victim. "For five days, I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't work," Keith said.
"I texted Jack and assured him that Tom would be OK," said
"I broke down and cried," Keith said.
Keith visited the Sovillas at
Rather than an uncomfortable, one-time encounter,
The couple's six daughters, too, immediately accepted their new reality without seeking blame.
"We just felt sorry for Keith,"
Sovilla suffered a broken pelvis, which was reconstructed with a plate and 12 screws. While his hip is on the mend, knee injuries still dog his full recovery.
"We had to reconstruct all four ligaments," said orthopedic surgeon
When Sovilla first came home, he used a wheelchair and then a walker. He now gets around with the aid of a cane.
A carpenter, Keith made modifications to the Sovillas' downstairs bathroom shower for easier access. He also raised almost
"We could live our lives angry and bitter about lots of things that have happened to us," said
"This is a truly exceptional family," Scolaro said. "UCI Medical is Orange County's major trauma center, so we see vehicular accident injuries every day. It is very hard to convince a patient going through pain and long rehabilitation that no one was ever out to put them in this situation."
Yet Sovilla needed no prompting.
"It wasn't like Jack was aiming for me," he said. "Bad things happen all the time. If you are unforgiving, you only hurt yourself."
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