This may be one of the saddest stories I’ve seen.
Late last month a crowdfunding campaign was posted online to help pay the funeral expenses for 40-year old Vladimir Zavala, who went by the name of Alex.
The page said Alex Zavala had died weeks after he was the victim of a hit-and-run while riding his bicycle.
But there were no details. No date for the crash, no location, no word on whether there was an arrest in the case.
It turns out that was because his family has no idea what happened or where.
According to a story from La Opinion, Zavala worked at a bicycle warehouse — likely meaning a bike co-op — and rode his bike everywhere, even spurning the car his mom bought for him.
But when Zavala didn’t come home one October night, his family searched for him everywhere, before eventually finding him lying in a coma in the intensive care unit of Los Angeles General Medical Center, suffering from head injuries, a broken his hip and missing his left eye.
His brother had to identify him, because he had come to the hospital with no identification.
It took a month for Alex Zavala to regain consciousness after the crash — then was somehow discharged despite bizarre ranting and speaking incoherently.
Then his mother came home from work one day in late December to find Zavala convulsing and bleeding from the ear; he died from a brain hemorrhage on December 20th.
If that was the end of it, that would be bad enough.
But the tragedy has been compounded because his family can’t conduct a funeral or bury Alex Zavala because they haven’t been able to get a death certificate, because the Medical Examiner’s office says they’re too backed up.
But I’m sure they’ll get around to it eventually.
To make matters even worse, the crowdfunding account was hacked, leaving Alex Zavala’s mother $25,000 in debt for his funeral expenses and burial plot.
A new crowdfunding campaign currently stands at a little more than $7,000 of the modest $8,500 goal. If you have a few extra bucks lying around, I can’t think of a better cause.
This was at least the 74th bicycling fatality in Southern California last year, and the 34th that I’m aware of in Los Angeles County; it may or may not have occurred in the City of Los Angeles.
At least 20 of those SoCal deaths have been at the hands of hit-and-run drivers.
My deepest sympathy and prayers for Alex Zavala and all his loved ones.
Thanks to Dr. Nina Harawa for the heads-up.