Miguel Nave, a Napa tow truck driver, was on his way home from work March 21 when he unknowingly drove past the scene where his 11-year-old son, Elijah, had been hit by a car while riding his bicycle.
He noticed emergency vehicles at the intersection of Solano and Trower avenues, but didn’t think much of it until he returned home and learned Elijah was out past his 6 p.m. curfew.
“All we saw was this mangled bike,” Miguel said. “It’s a horrible feeling.”
Miguel, 36, and wife Renée, 35, say they want to use their family’s experience to encourage others to be safer while using Napa’s roads.
Elijah was headed home from a friend’s house that evening, but forgot his new helmet, Renée said. He proceeded into the crosswalk, on his bike, when he was hit by a white car, she said. Elijah recalls being hit by the car and dragged along the street for a little bit, she said.
A Napa Police Department spokesperson said the driver was interviewed and officers determined no crimes were committed.
Renée said witnesses told her Elijah didn’t realize the severity of his injuries and asked to go home. He was bleeding from his mouth, had cuts on his face and right arm, and doctors later determined he had a broken nose and cracked ankle. As of Thursday, Elijah had tubes put in his nose to hold the bones together, she said.
Elijah’s nine siblings were initially scared, but have been a big help, Miguel said. Still, Elijah, a point guard for his basketball team, is upset to miss the upcoming season, which began Friday, Miguel said.
“Thank God he’s pretty tough,” Renée said. “It’s been a hard week for him.”
The Nave family thanked authorities and bystanders who helped Elijah, but now wants to encourage bicyclists to wear helmets and be safe. They hope drivers will avoid distractions, be cautious and alert, make full stops and obey all traffic signals.
That intersection is an especially dangerous one, the Naves said, and there are several schools nearby.
“It just takes one mistake and somebody could end up killed,” Miguel said.
Miguel said his family lives paycheck-to-paycheck and has created an online fundraiser on GoFundMe to pay for out-of-pocket medication costs, replace his bike and helmet, and possibly take him on a trip when he’s out of the hospital. Elijah told his parents he hoped to give part of the money raised to a homeless man his family regularly encounters.
“That’s just the kind of kid he is,” Miguel said. “He’s got a big heart.”