Near Fatal Accident - Pizzeria in Need

I know how pizzeria operators can come together when there’s a worthy cause, which is why I’m bringing this story to you. We met the owners of Rio Vista Pizza Factory on this year’s cruise and they told us about one of their employees that was in a hit-and-run accident that killed his girlfriend and nearly killed him. They would like to start a fundraiser for the family but don’t know where to begin. Perhaps you can help with some ideas for them. I’m posting the story below as well as contact information at the bottom. Thank you for anything you can do to help ease their worries!!!

Liz Barrett, editor-in-chief
PMQ Pizza Magazine

From Susan Stevens, Rio Vista Pizza Factory:
This young man, 18 yrs old, has worked for us at Pizza Factory for a couple of years. His mother and sister also work for us and have for a few years as well. A couple of weeks before Christmas he and his girlfriend of over a year were driving back to our city on the highway about 7 PM when a pickup truck ran a stop sign and hit Chris’ car on the passenger side killing his girlfriend and seriously injuring him. The driver fled the scene and was found huddling in a field about 8 hrs later. It was determined later he was drunk.

Chris’s injuries were very severe including head injuries, many shattered bones and overall trauma with massive blood loss. He was comatose and on a ventilator to breathe and his family was told to be prepared for the fact that he might not to recover. At one point they thought he might be in a vegetative state. He was in ICU of a major trauma center nearby but our town is a small town where everyone knows everyone so besides the devastating impact to his family, the whole town was shaken by this and responded en masse to the blood drives that were held for him, prayer vigils held and things like that. His family was not only dealing with Chris’ condition but they were also very close to his girlfriends family so of course had that funeral to go thru as well. For about 6 weeks Chris really did not show much progress at all. They had to take him to surgery many times to try and stop bleeding as all the shattered bones made it difficult to pinpoint the source to get it all stopped. Then just before we went on the cruise he started showing some small signs of life. He was not responding to commands but did appear to be trying to move. It kept progressing a little more until one day he opened his eyes. By this time his weight had dropped to about 90 lbs but he appeared to be attempting to move and communicate by squeezing his family’s hands. Within another couple of weeks it was more appropriate responses to questions and they eventually were able to take him off the ventilator and transferred him to a brain trauma center. It was at this time they had to tell him about his girlfriend being killed in the crash. The brain trauma center is where he really made miraculous progress with the constant attention and therapy and a couple of weeks later he has gone home!! He is far from finished with this whole thing as he still has a lot of therapy and 24/7 care and probably more surgeries ahead. He still has movement issues on one side that I’ve not heard if they expect that to eventually improve or not. One of the first places he wanted to come was back to our store and was able to sort of walk in (with help from his family) as he did not want to be in a wheelchair or walker when he came thru those doors. His sister is back to work but his mom is not as she is by his side every step of the way yet with the therapy… and now they have a whole court case to go thru too as far as the driver involved.

We still plan to have a fundraiser for him and are now working with the family on that. They have been so tied up with all their time at the hospital that we’ve been putting it off until it was right for them. There will be medical bills for years to come I imagine plus lost wages.

Susan Stevens
Rio Vista Pizza Factory
201 Main St
Rio Vista CA 94571