Driver becomes friends with cyclist he hit on highway, helps with his recovery

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. (KTLA) – A cyclist who is still recovering from serious injuries months after being hit by a truck in Southern California is getting a lot of help from an unlikely new friend: the driver who struck him.

Tom Sovilla, left, and Jack Keith, right, are seen in a photo posted to a GoFundMe account.
Tom Sovilla, left, and Jack Keith, right, are seen in a photo posted to a GoFundMe account.

The crash that altered the lives of Tom Sovilla and Jack Keith happened along the Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach on May 25, 2019, according to the two men, who shared their unusual story Monday.

Jack Keith was headed home after he’d been surfing that spring day when he suddenly became distracted while looking out at the ocean and accidentally hit Sovilla, who was out on his usual bike ride from La Habra to Seal Beach.

“It happened so fast, I don’t know where everything was, but all I remember was Tom flying through the air, like 30 feet, and I just freaked out,” Keith said, his voice choked with emotion.

Sovilla was rushed by ambulance to the hospital after suffering injuries that nearly left him dead. He had a fractured back, broken pelvis, torn knee ligaments, bruised intestines and two blood clots on the brain, according to a news release from UCI Medical Center in Irvine, where Sovilla spent the next month after the collision.

But far from being angry and bitter over what happened, Sovilla wanted to forgive the driver and assure him that he would be alright.

“Holding on to things just eats away at you. It doesn’t necessarily hurt the other person,” he said. “I think if people can understand that, then people would learn to forgive, because forgiveness is a big part about your own mental and physical health.”

So, five days into his 33-day hospital stay, Sovilla had his wife reach out to Keith. She got his number and sent him a message.

“I got a text from Jenette saying, ‘Hey, this is Tom’s wife Jenette, the guy you hit. We’ve been trying to get a hold of you, we’ve been praying for you and we just want you to know that he’s OK,'” Keith recalled. “I was blown away.”

From there, the beginning of an unlikely friendship blossomed.

While Sovilla continues to undergo rehabilitation all these months later, Keith has been doing what he can to help out the family.

For starters, Keith — a carpenter by trade — did some work at Sovilla’s home to make it easier for him to get around with his limited mobility.

And he also started a GoFundMe account to help with medical costs.

“My insurance paid out the max which wasn’t much. His insurance has paid the bulk of the hospital bills. But he is stuck with 7000 dollars having to come out of pocket,” Keith explained on the fundraising page, which he started on June 29.

As of Monday afternoon, the GoFundMe had raised about $2,000 toward Sovilla’s recovery effort.

For his part, Sovilla plans to continue cycling — although he says he may not be riding on roads like PCH in the future.

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.


Latest News

More News