INDING HIS WAY down a deserted section of
Scenic Loop Road on the outskirts of San Antonio, the cyclist was
enjoying the unusually warm February morning sun on his face as
the cool breeze blew through his hair. Ordinarily, he wore a helmet.
But today he noticed hibernating mice had nibbled the padding from
the inside of his protective head covering during the winter and
used it for nesting.
Anxious to continue his first ride after a long winter, the cyclist
was on his way back home to pick up a spare helmet and never even
saw the speeding car that sent both him and his motorcycle flying
off the highway and through the air.
The offending motorist drove away in a cloud of dust leaving the
cyclist lying in the gravel on the side of the isolated road. He
passed in and out of consciousness. He had no idea how long he had
been there when he sensed someone kneeling beside him. The stranger’s
name was Gabe and he had a cell phone—an unusual piece of
technology in 1985. Comforting the seriously wounded and delirious
cyclist, Gabe phoned 9-1-1.
leave me,” the cyclist pleaded, holding the stranger’s
hand. “I am hereeverything will be fine,” Gabe
The paramedics arrived a short time later. Gabe kept his promise
as he climbed into the ambulance and accompanied the injured man
on the bumpy ride to the hospital. In the frenzied activity of the
emergency room and once the cyclist’s condition had been stabilized,
Gabe suddenly disappeared into thin air
without leaving his
After a difficult surgery to repair a fractured skull and subdural
hematoma, the neurologist told the injured man’s frantic wife
that they had done “the best that they could,” and warned
her that her husband might live in a vegetative state for the rest
of his life. At least he was still alive.
Nine days later, the cyclist walked out of the hospital under his
own power with only a lingering hearing loss in his right ear and
a huge incision on one side of his skull.
He still enjoys riding his motorcycle, but every time he passes
the spot on Scenic Loop Road where he was nearly killed, he wonders
just who “Gabe” was, and why his own cell phone does
not get reception in that out-of-the-way spot.
CHRISTUS Transplant Institute
San Antonio, Texas