Seven months after he was nearly killed while riding his bicycle to work, Terell White has a new set of wheels, thanks to a Flossmoor police officer who raised money online for a replacement bike.
Patrol Officer David Levy Wednesday presented the new bicycle to White, 22, of Country Club Hills. Levy raised nearly $1,700 in four days on the crowd-funding site GoFundMe. More than 60 people across the country contributed to the cause with donations ranging from $5 to $100.
White was taken completely by surprise; he didn’t know Levy was bringing him a new bicycle. The two men exchanged hugs and White looked for the right words.
“I’m blessed, very blessed,” he said. “God gets the glory. We all work through God. I’m very thankful. I’m happy to be alive.”
Levy purchased the bike from Good Speed in Homewood, which installed special safety equipment. Levy said White will also receive free tune-ups from the store as long as he has the bike.
White spent nearly three months in the hospital following a crash with an auto last fall. He recently came to the police station looking for his bike. Levy, the officer on the scene after the accident, told White that his bike had been wrecked in the crash.
“The look in his eyes when I told him his bike was ruined hit me hard,” Levy said on the crowd-funding site GoFundMe. “He told me he has been riding his bike for over three years…everywhere. I helped him retrieve his bike, put it in my squad trunk and drove him home.”
Levy had previously used GoFundMe to raise money for his softball team and turned to the site to finance the new bike.
Last November 14, White was riding his bike south on Crawford Avenue when he was hit by a car about a quarter-mile north of Vollmer Road. It was dark outside, just after 5 p.m., and he was on his way to work at the Matteson Pizza Hut.
The car that struck White had a shattered windshield and a dent on the roof from his head, Levy said on GoFundMe.
“He was unresponsive to my questions,” Levy said. “He was breathing but his breaths were short and shallow. I didn’t think he would make it.”
White was airlifted to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he spent the next three weeks. After that he spent the remainder of his hospital time at Kindred Hospital in Northlake. He had five operations and was in an induced coma for three weeks.
“I was fortunate,” White said. “I didn’t break any bones. I thought I might need plastic surgery but that’s not going to be necessary.”
Levy said people as far away as California and New York contributed toward the new bike.
“It’s you,” he said to White. “All those people heard your story. They believe in you.”
White has returned to his job at Pizza Hut and has a second job at Olive Garden, also in Matteson. On Wednesday morning, Levy stopped by with the bike just before White was about to leave for one of his jobs.
White’s mother Andrea, who knew her son was getting the new bike, kept a close eye on the family dog, Goldie, during the informal presentation ceremony in front of their house. She said she was happy and grateful about her son’s recovery and the kindness of everyone who made online contributions.
Levy said some money was left over following the purchase of the bike and will be used to repair the transmission on White’s car. The new bike is also coming with a helmet.
Deputy Police Chief Tod Kamleiter said Levy, a six-year member of the Flossmoor department, is the kind of officer who stops his squad car to shoot baskets with kids in driveways.
“He knows how important it is to work with young people,” Kamleiter said. “And he is always looking for ways to help.”
Contact Tom Houlihan at [email protected]