Eli Reyes: Friends Crowd-Source to Help Cyclist Hit by "Aggressive Driver"

Categories: Crime, Tech

A vicious assault nine days ago left Eli Reyes with a broken femur and a number of deep cuts and bruises. She'd been riding her bike through downtown Oakland in the wee hours of the morning when an angry motorist pulled up at a red light, grabbed her through the open window of his truck, and dragged her across the intersection of 14th Street and Broadway.

Reyes fell off her bike, and the truck ran right over her legs. She had surgery at Highland Hospital, where doctors put a metal rod in her femur.

According to the couple, the driver sped off, leaving an injured Reyes behind. SF Weekly contacted Oakland Police Department to get more details on the alleged crime, however, we have not heard back yet.

Reyes, who was recently released from the hospital, and her boyfriend, Ivan Navarro, are now stuck with mounting medical bills -- even after Highland Hospital and the Alameda County's HealthPAC program, which helps cover uninsured people whose income falls below a $1,915 monthly threshold, waived some of her fees. Navarro, who co-owns a community art space with Reyes, says her monthly earnings hover around that minimum.

Unsure of what the net cost for a serious injury could be -- particularly for a couple trying to run a small business -- they took a recourse that's become increasingly possible for people in desperate situations. They crowd-sourced.

As of yesterday, Reyes' medical bill campaign on GoFundMe.com has raised $1,185 of its $15,000 goal. It's one in a spate of campaigns to cover medical expenses for an individual or family in desperate circumstances -- a situation that's become increasingly common, says GoFundMe CEO Brad Damphouse. With Bay Area residents crowd-sourcing everything from bone marrow treatments, to elder care, to college tuition. At a time when state and county agencies can no longer pay for catastrophes, crowd-fund sites are picking up the tab. The phrase "Kick-start my cancer" may soon become common coin.

That's cause for hand-wringing among ethicists who question this public passing-of-the-hat -- in a world where online bone marrow drives may get less attention than the cavalier pleas for fans to bankroll an album, it's no longer clear which burdens should fall on the public. Navarro and Reyes have good cause to ask for help, and they'll get heaps of it from official channels -- besides HealthPAC, a state-run victim compensation fund should cover some costs associated with the injury.

But Navarro says there are still many expenses can't foresee. He and other friends have set up a Facebook page to coordinate ways to support Reyes, from offering rides, to keeping her company and buying things she needs.

Social media has been their saving grace. Well, that and a little largesse.

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