When Jack Keith was driving home in his truck after a surfing session last May, he was gazing out at the Pacific Ocean when he suddenly, and accidentally, hit a cyclist driving alongside his vehicle on the Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach.
Tom Sovilla had been biking from La Habra to Seal Beach on May 25, 2019 and was taken to the hospital by ambulance after the nearly fatal crash.
“It happened so fast, I don’t know where everything was, but all I remember was Tom flying through the air, like 30 feet, and I just freaked out,” Keith recalled of the moment he hit Sovilla to KTLA 5.
But even after a month-long stay in the hospital for multiple injuries, Sovilla chose to forgive Keith, and the two men are sharing their heartwarming story of unlikely friendship nearly eight months after the accident.
Sovilla spent 33 days in the hospital being treated for a fractured back, broken pelvis, torn knee ligaments, bruised intestines and two brain blood clots, the UCI Medical Center said in a news release provided to KTLA. The medical center did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
“Holding on to things just eats away at you. It doesn’t necessarily hurt the other person,” Sovilla told the outlet, explaining that he and his wife, Jenette, reached out to Keith just five days into his hospital stay. “I think if people can understand that, then people would learn to forgive, because forgiveness is a big part about your own mental and physical health.”
Keith said he was “blown away” when he received the text from Jenette.
“I got a text from Jenette saying, ‘Hey, this is Tom’s wife Jenette, the guy you hit. We’ve been trying to get a hold of you, we’ve been praying for you and we just want you to know that he’s okay,’” Keith said.
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Since Jenette reached out, the two men have become friends, and Keith has helped with some carpentry work around Sovilla’s house to help with his limited mobility.
“Thank God he is gonna recover,” Keith wrote on a GoFund Me campaign page he started for the family about a month after the accident. “But his road to recovery is gonna be a long one. My insurance paid out the max which wasn’t much. His insurance has paid the bulk of the hospital bills. But he is stuck with 7,000 dollars having to come out of pocket.”
“God has had his hand over him and all of us involved,” he continued. “I pray that my friends will help me in covering his bills so that he can recover without any more stress or worries. I thank all of you for your support.”
As of Monday, more than $2,000 had been raised out of the $7,000 goal.