La Joya coach speaks out after being hit by drunk driver
Fri, 11 Feb 2011 01:07:28 GMT —
Just a few months ago, a Rio Grande Valley cyclist lost his life after getting hit by a car.
A fellow rider is now counting his lucky stars that he's alive to tell his story in the hopes it will save someone else's life.
The injured man is a coach in La Joya and an avid cyclist.
But for the last few days, 25-year-old Emmanuel Lopez has been sidelined after he went on what was supposed to be a routine ride through Edinburg.
I took my time, put the lights on (bicycle), headed out for my training ride at 6:15, 6:20 p.m. Lopez said.
It was at that same time Tuesday evening that 27-year-old Jessica Lee Whatley got behind the wheel of her car under the influence of alcohol, according to Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) troopers.
Emmanuel was on 23rd Street and Highway 107 when a cyclist TMs worst nightmare occurred.
I didn't hear a thing and I didn't feel a thing. I was completely unconscious from the moment I got hit," Lopez said. "I got hit from behind. I took most of the impact on my hip which hit the windshield. My helmet was broken, and I believe I went over the car."
Emmanuel invited Action 4 News into his hospital room at McAllen Medical Center because he wants his near fatal accident to be a learning tool for drivers who don't look out for cyclists in bike lanes.
Emmanuel considers himself lucky to be alive and has no comment about the person that hit him other than that he hopes her actions will wake people up.
"Luckily, and I'm thankful for this, I only have two broken ribs and a bruised lung. In the pictures my friends showed me, it could have been a lot worse, he said.
Lopez has attempted to walk around, but says he is still too sore. He's confident he will fully recover from his injuries and get back on a bicycle soon.
Whatley was arrested Tuesday night after she left the scene, but returned with her father.
She is charged with intoxication assault and failure to control speed.