I have been an avid cyclist for just over a decade and have been fortunate enough to have my sons join me for periods here and there. My son Sam is 23 and we had hoped to begin a summer of cycling together both to regain strength that we have both lost over the last year or so due to our many other obligations. Sam is part of the hardcore music scene in Tucson, a full-time student (transferring to the U of A this fall) and he has a job.
We did a short ride on May 14th and were both excited to spend some time together.
On Friday, May 20th Sam took off for a short ride North on Swan to Sunrise, over to Craycroft, and back to Pima and Rosemont where he lives.
As he was traveling North on Swan, at the 3400 block North, just where the bike lane expands from a few feet to a full car-lane wide, he was struck from behind at an estimated 45 mph.
The woman driving, talking on her cell phone, weaving in and out of traffic, and caught moments earlier by the red-light camera at Grant and Swan for blowing through that intersection, never even stopped.
She initially misled witnesses by putting on her flashers and slowing down, but as soon as passersby began rendering aid to my critically injured son she fled the scene. Someone had the where-with-all to pursue her but stopped because of safety concerns.
Among the dozen or so people that stopped were two physicians.
From that moment to now an orchestra of perfect events took place to save Sam from death.
He sustained a massive head injury with skull fractures and a clot that had to be surgically removed, a broken jaw, a broken cheek, a broken leg, a broken wrist/thumb, whiplash, and a ridiculous amount of road rash.
He has made it through three surgeries and was initially on a ventilator and tube feedings, receiving around the clock sedation and pain medication.
While my ex-wife is awesome at the silent vigil, I was unable to sit still and decided to rally the media in hopes of catching this person. It worked. We did have a description of the driver and car, a young woman with reddish hair, driving a newer model black Nissan Altima. Witnesses also reported that her car had extensive front end damage, and that her windshield had a soccer-ball size hole on the passenger side from Sam’s head!
Four days later Damon Ashcroft from AAG (a windshield replacement company) noticed a suspicious looking windshield that a tech had brought in from a private residence. Although the customer said that a rock had been thrown through her windshield, Damon questioned the blood and hair, which she later told him was from a bird!
Damon called police, who later arrested this 21 year old woman, Abigail A. Allin.
She denied everything.
She was charged with a three Class Two Felonies, leaving the scene of a serious accident involving injury or death, tampering with evidence, driving on a suspended license, and no insurance. She will also be charged with failing to stop at a red light.
Sam is now at Health South for intensive rehab. And we hope to have him home in a week or so, as so much of what needs to be addressed cannot be done until his casts are removed.
Sam was healthy, strong, and full of life. And what people truly need to understand is that while all of the physical injuries heal within a couple of months, a traumatic brain injury, and the stress of being trapped inside a broken body can be unbearable.
While all of his damage only took seconds to inflict, his recovery will take years! Sam’s real fight right now is to maintain a positive attitude so that he can deal with this each day…
His brother Graham graduated from Catalina Magnet High School last Wednesday and the two had tickets to Rain-fest in Seattle. Many of the performers have offered to take up collections for Sam.
A benefit concert was done in Phoenix last week. Fender donated two guitars signed by Rancid and Rise Against so that his friends could auction them off, and there will be a benefit show at Jacobs YMCA on June 12th.
We have set up an account at Wells Fargo: The Samuel Abate Donation Account.
The news of this tragic event has been forwarded through Mac Graham of Sabino Cycles, Jean Gorman of the Brad Gorman Foundation, and by Richard DeBernardis of the PBAA.
As a family we are thankful to all of the people at the scene, TFD, TPD, UMC, Health South, and all of the people that have held Samuel in love through their thoughts and prayers.
Caution, graphic images of Sam Abate’s injuries below.