Jeff Sczechowski spent last Saturday doing what he loves — riding mountain bikes with a friend in the coastal hills on a sunny morning.
After completing the ride near Sycamore Canyon Campground at Point Mugu State Park in Ventura County, the avid cyclist parted ways with his buddy, and rode north up Pacific Coast Highway toward where his car was parked.
Then, shortly after 11 a.m., the Santa Barbara man’s day turned tragically dark when he was struck from behind by a hit-and-run driver as he was riding along the side of the scenic roadway.
The impact of the collision catapulted him off the bike into a parked car, mangling his bicycle and leaving the 58-year-old UC Santa Barbara physics researcher severely injured.
On Monday, Sczechowski was immobilized in a hospital bed at Ventura County Medical Center, being treated for injuries that include multiple fractured vertebrae in his back, a broken left leg, damaged arms and wrists, and likely several fractured ribs, according to his wife, Namino Glantz.
“They still have him flat on his back, looking up at the ceiling, in a brace that goes all the way up to his neck because of his back,” Glantz told Noozhawk. “He can’t move or do anything. He’s in a lot of pain.”
Because of COVID-19 protocols at the hospital, Glantz said, she has been unable to visit her husband. She’s talked to him briefly a couple times on the phone, and has received only limited information about his condition and progress.
“The information flow has been pretty much one way,” she said.
The California Highway Patrol in Ventura did not respond Monday to Noozhawk’s requests for details about the crash and the search for the driver of the vehicle that struck Sczechowski, so no official information was available.
Glantz said she does not know whether anyone witnessed the collision — only that someone found him and called 9-1-1.
Sczechowski’s family is hoping someone will come forward with information about the collision and the person responsible by calling the CHP’s Ventura office at 805.662.2640.
“Either somebody who was involved …,” Glantz said, “or somebody who witnessed it and can provide information to the officer.”
He also is an avid bonsai tree artist, and heads up the Bonsai Club of Santa Barbara.
Glantz said she does not know how long recovery will take for her husband, what it will look like, or even when he will be able to return home.
She noted that he broke his back 10-15 years ago in a different place, “so he’s been through that.”
“I’m hoping we can avoid surgery, but I don’t know,” she added.
In the meantime, Glantz waits for updates on her husband’s condition and the investigation, and hopes the person responsible for putting him the hospital can be found.