Jesse Birkedal was cycling on Eastside Road when he was struck by a vehicle that then departed the scene without providing any assistance or leaving their information. (Photo courtesy of GoFundMe)

Penticton cyclist injured in hit-and-run in critical condition

Jesse Birkedal was injured in a hit-and-run while cycling on Eastside Road

The brother of a South Okanagan cyclist, who was the victim of a hit and run on Eastside Road and is in critical condition, is putting a public plea out.

“If you saw anything please contact RCMP. If you are the one that hit him, please come forward. This is my brother and it is just crushing me. I hope that the person that did this comes forward because people are looking for them. I just want someone to come forward and take responsibility for their actions,” said Dayne Heimbecker-Cooley.

READ MORE: Penticton RCMP search for suspect vehicle in cyclist hit and run

Jesse Birkedal, 26, was cycling on Eastside Road on June 5 when he was hit by a vehicle that did not remain at the scene. He suffered seven fractures in his body — including two in his pelvis, three vertebrae and his ankle.

“He was in a coma until (late last week) and he didn’t remember anything,” said Heimbecker-Cooley who has set up a GoFundMe account to fundraise for his sibling. “I wasn’t there when he woke up but my sister was and we did a video chat. He was balling his eyes out and sure is thankful for anyone who donates to the fundraiser.”

Birkedal, who RCMP said was not wearing a helmet, also had seven staples in his head and two in his shoulder.

“He has head to toe road rash. He is pretty depressed right now and just can’t believe someone would do this and not even stop to help,” said Heimbecker-Cooley. “I got to the hospital as soon as I could to see him and just totally lost my mind, it is so hard to see him like this.”

Heimbecker-Cooley said he set up the fundraiser to get some money together for him to possibly get a wheelchair accessible apartment, as he believes he will not be able to walk for some time. Almost $1,000 has been raised in just over a week.

Heimbecker-Cooley said his brother is from Oliver and has been working in an orchard. He added that he has a young daughter that lives with her mother in another community.

“I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who has helped out so far. I couldn’t have done this without the support of my friends and family. They have been keeping my spirits up and positive. I have also seen a lot of messages and donations coming in from people we don’t even know, I want them to know we are thankful,” said Heimbecker-Cooley.

Penticton RCMP are continuing their investigation into the incident and said the suspect vehicle is believed to be a Pontiac Vibe, or other Pontiac brand of vehicle with a small honeycomb style of grill.

“Should any repair shops have any information about a similar vehicle with front-end damage, they are encouraged to call the Penticton RCMP,” said Const. James Grandy.

If you have any information, please call the Penticton RCMP at 250-492-4300 or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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