2007-01-11 – The ‘Lazarus’ of the Bronx- Metro NY

The ‘Lazarus’ of the Bronx

by Amy Zimmer / Metro New York

JAN 11, 2007

PELHAM BAY PARK. There’s a plaque on Shore Road where bicyclist Ivan Morales was struck by an SUV nearly a year ago. After being hurled more than 30 feet in the air, his helmet split in half. So did his skull. The NYPD and news reports said he was dead.

This weekend, Time’s Up!, a bike advocacy group, organized a tour of sites throughout the city where cyclists were killed by motor vehicles. When News 12 broadcast a segment from the spot where Morales was killed, his fellow churchgoers were shocked.

Ivan Morales is alive and well and living in the Bronx.

“I was actually dead at one point,” the 62-year-old retired Metro-North computer analyst said yesterday. “In the ambulance, they said, there’s nothing we can do for this guy. What happened, by the grace of God, I came back.” He was in a coma for four days and didn’t remember anything about the Jan. 9, 2006, incident after waking.

His wife Daisy fainted when she first saw him in the hospital, Morales said. Every bone in his face was fractured. Both of his eyes popped out of their sockets, and now he has screws holding them in place. “My whole nose is reconstructed,” Morales said, joking, “They did a better job than Michael Jackson.”

Morales goes to Bible study twice a week and he rides his new Cannondale bike roughly five miles a day.

When Morales was hit, he was on his way to his home near White Plains Road after playing afternoon tennis at Orchard Beach. He was wearing a yellow jacket and yellow helmet while riding his yellow bike crossing from one bike lane to another. According to an investigation by Morales’ lawyer Glenn Finley, the driver was an off-duty police officer leaving the firing range in that area. NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said the driver was not charged in the incident.

Bike advocates said the confusion over Morales’ death highlights a problem groups have with getting accurate information on cyclists’ traffic accidents.
“From 1987 to around 1994, I was able to call the NYPD and get each month’s crashes and fatalities of cars hitting pedestrians, cars hitting bikes and bikes hitting pedestrians,” said Charles Komanoff, who used to head Transportation Alternatives.

He said crash reports should be made public so “bikers and pedestrians can be informed about how people are getting hurt or killed.”

Time’s Up! rode to honor 14 cyclists they knew of who were killed. The NYPD did not include Morales in their tally of cyclists killed in 2006. “There were 16 cyclists killed last year, compared to 22 the year before,” Browne said.