VACAVILLE — When Steve Roehrs left for his weekly bike ride through the country, it was like any other Sunday.
Aside from leaving a bit later than normal, the Vacaville resident stuck to his routine that helped him lose 80 pounds.
When his wife Elizabeth got a call on Nov. 25 that her husband was in a bicycle accident, she was told he had broken a leg and she needed to go pick up his bike. She later got a call saying Steve was being transferred to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.
The next call was more serious – an emergency room nurse started talking about Steve having feeling in his toes.
“At first, it was scary, but could have been worse,” Elizabeth said in a telephone interview from Sacramento. “Then the emergency nurse called. Nobody said anything about him not feeling his toes before. I thought maybe he broke his legs.”
Things became much more clear when she arrived at the hospital and saw her husband.
“He said ‘I think I broke my back and I may not be able to walk again,’” she said. “I was terrified. We have a little one. What is going to happen?”
Steve was traveling down Cantelow Road near Pleasants Valley in rural north Vacaville when he got going too fast. It’s unclear exactly what happened, but he hit a tree while going more than 30 mph.
The father and husband faced a five-hour surgery to combat a burst fracture of his T10 vertebrae, 14 broken ribs, a fracture with tearing to a vertebrae and ligaments in his neck. He also had a bruise and collapsing in his right lung, Elizabeth said. There was also a nick to one of his arteries from a broken rib.
As bad as all that sounds, Elizabeth said he would have died on the road if it wasn’t for another rider who came upon him and called an ambulance. That woman has not been found. Elizabeth, Steve and their family want to thank her for the gesture.
It is still unknown how much of a recovery Steve will make or if he will walk, but wiggling toes on his left foot last week was enough to celebrate.
“The whole ICU staff was crying. It’s remarkable what he could do in two days,” she said. “All in all, it looks like it’s getting better every day. I’ve had lots of people rallying behind us. It gives me hope.”
Besides the family and friends that have gathered, more than $1,300 has been donated. Elizabeth said a lot of that has come from strangers and will help toward paying medical bills. Steve is looking at two to three weeks of intense rehab of six to eight hours a day. He will then need at least six months of rehabilitation.
“People that I don’t even know have been tracking me down and donating,” she said. “He’s always been the one to make me stay positive. I’m staying as strong as I can. The family has pulled together. It makes you value things that you lose appreciation for.”
The website detailing the incident and to donate is https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/2OXZc.
Reach Danny Bernardini at 427-6935 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dbernardinidr.