Pete Veloz

Anne Oliver was riding her electric bike to her dentist’s office for an 8 a.m. appointment when she decided to cross S.R. 54 during a lapse in the traffic.

With plenty of time, she proceeded across the road.

“I looked and there were no cars, just one truck,” Anne says.

Anne thought she could drive right up on the median, and assumed it had an angled curb, which many do. Unfortunately, this median had a steep curb, which Anne remembers looking down and not seeing until the last second. 

It was the last thing she remembers before a violent crash.

Fortunately for her, Pete Veloz was driving that truck.

Veloz, who owns Paver World of Wesley Chapel a little east on S.R. 54 and is known as “Paver Pete,” was cruising along in his Ford F-350 work truck when he saw a woman crossing the road on her bike. He could tell she was heading to the median, but then everything happened in slow motion, he says.

“She went flying through the air, she went one way and her bike went the other way,” Pete says. “She landed face first on the grass. If that was a concrete median, it could have been really bad.”

The bike landed in the lane closest to the median. Pete swerved around it, looked in his driver’s sideview mirror, and saw Anne laying motionless, her leg sprawled out into the road. He thought she might have broken her neck, or even worse.

Anne, left, and her husband John.

“You know how sometimes someone will wreck their bike, but the adrenaline is going and they pop back up and keep going?,” Pete says. “She was knocked out.”

He backed up his truck, jumped out and dragged her all the way onto the median. He helped take off her helmet. He pulled the bike off the road. Cars were driving by, but Pete’s truck was serving as a caution and slowing them down.

Pete called 9-1-1. A woman from the Brookside Professional Park across the street ran over and called 9-1-1 as well. The police were there in moments, Pete says. Anne came to, moaning in pain, but was discombobulated and didn’t remember anything from the accident.

“I remember Pete’s voice and him trying to help me,” Anne says. “It was sunny. My face was bleeding, so he got me a rag. I still have never even seen his face.”

Anne’s husband, John, was driving back from Riverview when he got a call from the woman who had also come over to help. He doesn’t remember her name, just that she was calling from a New York area code. 

“Your wife’s been in an accident,” she told him, “but she’s okay and wants to talk to you.”

Anne tried to explain what happened, but was still struggling to sort things out. She doesn’t remember talking to John. She was loaded into an ambulance, and the woman with the New York area code called John back to tell him his wife was being transported to St. Joseph’s hospital.

John, a nurse, knew that wasn’t great because there were a number of closer options (like AdventHealth Wesley Chapel) but that St. Joseph’s has the nearest trauma center. 

As he headed in that direction, Pete called him with more details, and offered to take the bike so it wasn’t impounded.

Anne was in the hospital for nearly two weeks. The crash had been fierce. She fractured her nasal cavity, her face was scraped and bloody, she suffered tissue damage on her right hand and wrist, and worst of all, she suffered a tibia plateau fracture, which is a break of the larger lower leg bone below the knee that breaks into the knee joint itself.

Anne had Open Reduction and Internal Fixation, or ORIF, which is used to repair broken bones with hardware. In Anne’s case, it was synthetic putty, brackets and screws.

Because it is such a vital load-bearing area, it will take months for her leg to heal. Anne says she is facing three months of a non-weight-bearing existence.

But, she is alive.

If Pete wasn’t driving that truck, she’s not sure she would be.

“I am very grateful that things were not worse,” Anne says. “It could have been a lot worse. With all the cars that drive by, anything could have happened.”

Anne and John actually bought their electric bikes because John suffers from multiple sclerosis and cannot walk, so the bike offers pedaling assistance. The Seven Oaks residents typically ride their bikes around the nature trails where they live.

On the day of her dentist appointment, Anne had to take John’s heavier bike because hers was having its brakes fixed.

A Growing Trend

Electric bikes generally don’t have great suspension or shocks, and Anne thinks that — as well as the weight of the bike — contributed to the forceful accident, as the tires did not absorb the contact with the curb.

Anne and John say the doctors and nurses at St. Joseph’s said they were just one of many they had seen come in following an accident on an electric bike. 

According to a CBS News report, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission determined that injuries from electric scooters, bikes, hoverboards and other “mirco-mobility” products are up 70 percent the past four years, with 200,000 ER visits and at least 71 deaths from 2017-20.”

But, Anne and John say they hope to go back to riding their bikes — albeit in less crowded areas — when she heals.

As Anne fills in the blanks, she finds the possibilities of what could have happened to be terrifying. That’s why she wants everyone to know about Pete.

“That’s nice,” says Pete, “but I’m just glad she’s alright. It was pretty scary.”

Years ago, Pete says his youngest daughter was in a car accident, and no one stopped to help her. 

“That really broke my heart,” he says. 

So when he saw Anne collide with the curb and was laying there motionless, it was never even a decision.

“That’s what you do, right?,” Pete says. “That’s the type of guy I am. You see someone in need, you stop to help. That’s how it should be.”

Recommended Posts

No comment yet, add your voice below!

Add a Comment