Cyclist struck in hit-and-run looks to ‘Finish the Ride’


A cyclist whose right leg was partially amputated after he was struck by a hit-and-run driver near Griffith Park last year isn’t letting the events of that tragic day stop him from prevailing in his new life’s mission.

Damian Kevitt was left wounded, but still remains resilient as he works to shed light on a traffic-safety issue plaguing several Los Angeles County cities — hit-and-run collisions.

“It’s not only about me. An entire city is starting to galvanize around the idea that it’s unacceptable to hit and run,” he said.

In the pursuit to raise awareness about hit-and-run collisions in Los Angeles, Kevitt will be joined by hundreds of cyclists on Sunday as he takes his mission to the streets and rides along a similar route he took the day he was injured.

Kevitt, an avid cyclist and church counselor, was hit by a light-colored minivan on Zoo Drive on Feb. 17, 2013, and dragged 600 feet until he was dislodged from the vehicle on the southbound Golden State (5) Freeway onramp.

He suffered more than 20 broken bones, and doctors were forced to amputate a portion of his right leg.

Recovery was a long process, but Kevitt was determined to get back on his bicycle. He didn’t allow himself to give up because doing so would be like “killing yourself,” he said.

“You get back up,” he said. “You dust yourself off and finish the ride.”

That philosophy led to Kevitt’s new charity event, “Finish the Ride,” which he said not only aims to highlight hit-and-run collisions, but also raises money for the Challenged Athletes Foundation and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.

Soon after Kevitt’s collision, Gov. Jerry Brown approved a bill from Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) that extends the statute of limitations on hit-and-run crimes to three years after the crime or one year after a suspect is identified by law enforcement.

The bill, Kevitt said, will benefit investigators as they continue to look for the motorist who ran him down and left him badly injured.

Even though $30,000 in rewards, including $5,000 from the Glendale City Council, were offered in Kevitt’s case, police have not been able to track down the motorist.

Still, Kevitt is hoping the motorist comes forward to police because he said drivers must take responsibility for their actions.

“That’s going to wear on that individual for the rest of his life,” he said.

To join Kevitt on his journey this Sunday, registration starts at 6:30 a.m. at 4810 Sunset Blvd. in the parking of the Church of Scientology of Los Angeles. The event will begin in the parking lot and end at the south lawn of the Autry National Center near Griffith Park.

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


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