Mother of cyclist who lost leg in hit-and-run pleads for help

The mother of a 36-year-old Los Angeles cyclist whose right leg was amputated after being hit and then dragged 600 feet by a van pleaded for the driver to turn himself in to authorities.

Michele Kirkland’s son, Damian Kevitt, has already undergone four surgeries since he was struck on Feb. 17 near the Zoo Drive on-ramp at Griffith Park and dragged onto the Golden State (5) Freeway before becoming dislodged and left behind, his body broken and bleeding. Doctors also might have to amputate his left foot.

“It was an unfortunate act. It was cruel, but I know that people are basically good, and Damian would appreciate you coming forward and being honest,” Kirkland said, referring to the driver of the van. “He’s got to look inside and see if he can have the courage to come forward.”

Kirkland also urged friends and family of the driver to come forward and to think about whether they “are going to protect somebody who did something like this.”

Meanwhile, the California High Patrol Altadena office has received tips from the public regarding the crash, Sgt. Brian Brown said.

“This is probably one of the worst hit-and-run crashes I have seen that anybody had survived,” he said, adding the Kevitt was “very fortunate.”

For Kevitt, that Sunday started off with a bicycle ride with his wife on the Los Angeles River bike path.

The couple then crossed onto Zoo Drive, hoping to visit Griffith Park and the Los Angeles Zoo, his mother said.

Kevitt, an avid cyclist, was riding well ahead of wife, west on the south side of Zoo Drive when he came upon heavy traffic. Kevitt approached the onramp to the southbound 5 Freeway when the driver of the minivan made a left and hit him, according to the CHP.

Kevitt landed on the hood and windshield, but before he could free himself, the driver reportedly accelerated. That, in turn, forced Kevitt off the hood and he became lodged under the minivan.

Another motorist who witnessed the incident began chasing the driver, but quickly stopped to block traffic and render aid to Kevitt, his mother said.

A doctor and paramedic who were driving on the freeway stopped to help Kevitt, who was wearing a helmet.

Kevitt, who is a counselor, suffered severe road rash, his mother said. His arms, legs and pelvic bones were broken.

Kevitt’s right shoulder was also crushed and can’t be repaired, his mother said.

“I can’t imagine torture worse than this,” she said.

But even after suffering major injuries, Kevitt has remained resilient.

“He is focused on healing and getting back into action,” Kirkland said.

The minivan was described as possibly an older gray Toyota Sienna, and having a “For sale” sign with the partial phone number of (213) XXX-0776 and faded Spanish-language lettering posted on the rear window.

Witnesses also described the driver as possibly wearing a soccer jersey, Kevitt’s mother said.

Police encourage anyone with information on the collision, or who may have seen the motorist, to call the CHP Altadena Station at (626) 296-8100.


Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.


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