La Habra cyclist struck by vehicle offers prayers, forgiveness for driver

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Tuesday, January 14, 2020
La Habra cyclist reunites with man who crashed into him, doctors who saved his life
It was a rare reunion between a La Habra cyclist who was hit by a vehicle, the doctors who helped save his life, and the man who was behind the wheel the day of the crash seven months ago in Huntington Beach.

IRVINE, Calif. (KABC) -- It's a rare story of forgiveness between a La Habra cyclist who was hit by a vehicle and the man who was behind the wheel the day of the crash seven months ago in Huntington Beach.

"All I remember is Tom flying through the air like 30 feet and then I just freaked out and, what did I do? Pulled over and called 911," said Long Beach resident Jack Keith.

In the days after the accident, Keith could hardly eat or sleep until he received a text from Tom Sovilla's wife, letting him know Sovilla was alive and would eventually recover. They also wanted Keith to know they were praying for him.

"I contribute a lot of it to my being a Christian that I was able to let a lot of that stuff go," said Sovilla. "Holding onto things just eats away at you. It doesn't necessarily hurt the other person. So I think if people could understand that, then people would learn to forgive, 'cause forgiveness is a big part about your own mental and physical health."

Keith was blown away by their kindness, and has been able to emotionally heal himself thanks to how they handled the situation.

"I've learned so much from them on how/what it means to live by some spiritual principles and not just say it but actually do it and I'm super honored to be their friend," said Keith.

Now, Sovilla is working toward getting back to cycling by using an indoor training bike. His doctors are happy with his progress.

"A lot of it has to do with the attitude of the patient and turning that - any potential resentment or anger or anything like that, which often times exists - into a positive, motivating force," said orthopedic trauma surgeon Dr. John Scolaro of UCI Medical Center.

As life gets closer to normal, both men say they've learned a lot about what can happen on the road.

"From a cyclist standpoint, I think the cyclists out there need to pay more attention to what they're doing. 'Cause a lot of guys, even some of the guys I ride with, they figure I have the right of way, but you know the right away against a 6,000 pound vehicle doesn't do you any good," Sovilla said.

Sovilla's doctors said he must undergo about a year of physical therapy before returning to cycling.

"Till it happens, you think it's not gonna happen to you. So it does happen, and it can happen to you. So it's just a lesson to learn, to stay focused when you're driving," Keith said.

Sovilla said once he does recover, he has some major cycling adventures planned.