Authorities are searching for a hit-and-run driver who struck a bicyclist and left him hospitalized in Riverside County.
With a long road to recovery ahead, Alvaro Cortez, 53, considers himself incredibly lucky to have survived the crash.
“Nobody stopped,” Alvaro recalled. “They just did the damage and kept on going.”
At around 6 a.m. Wednesday morning, Alvaro was riding his bike to the Corona train station on his way to work.
As he arrived near River Road just before Bluff Street in Norco, a driver crashed into him from behind. They never pulled over and kept on driving away.
Alvaro was knocked unconscious and left on the side of the road. His bike was shattered into pieces.
“There was an officer that was off duty on the way to work and he’s the one that stopped and found me and called it in,” Alvaro said of his rescuer.
He was rushed to Riverside Community Hospital and when he awoke, at first, he didn’t realize what had happened.
Doctors told him he had fractured a part of his cheekbone, injured his wrist and sustained a large laceration to his head.
“Quite a few lacerations and my face is pretty much deformed and swollen,” Alvaro said.
Although he typically drives to work in Tustin, Alvaro’s car had been out of service so he had been commuting to work by riding his bike to a local train station.
Even though his bike is now destroyed, Alvaro knows that for many cyclists involved in crashes, the outcome could have been much worse.
“I’m very, very thankful I’m a Christian man and the first thing I did when I came to my senses was thank the lord,” he said.
Alvaro’s daughter, Megan Abundas, received the news in a phone call from her mother. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said they are now actively searching for the suspect driver, but no vehicle description is currently available.
“At first I was so angry,” Megan said. “I was mad and upset at the world like, how could someone do this?
While there are no surveillance cameras in the immediate area of the intersection, Alvaro remembers a dump truck and a motorcycle officer passing him on the River Road bridge moments before the crash.
The family is now hoping that cameras further down the road will help in the investigation or that someone will come forward with valuable information.
“Somebody had to have been either on the other side of the bridge traveling in the opposite direction or shortly behind this person that hit him,” Megan said. “Somebody had to have seen something.”
Alvaro and his family said there have been multiple bike crashes that have taken place on that particular stretch of River Road. They’re hoping city officials will consider adding a dedicated bike lane to prevent future tragedies.
They are also hoping the hit-and-run driver is caught soon. They have this message for whoever is responsible:
“Admit to your wrongdoings. Just do the right thing. Come forward and own up to your mistakes because this has to be bothering you.”
Anyone with information on the case can call the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department at 1-800-950-2444.