“The doctor that treated me at Boulder Community Hospital told me I was within a half an hour of dying,” Bernstein said Sunday.
On July 20, 2019, the avid cyclist was riding his bike home from a training session in Erie when he was struck on Arapahoe Road near Legion Park. Colorado State Patrol is investigating the case as a hit and run.
“More than 30 broken bones, including vertebrae in my back and all of my ribs and pelvis, femur, two collapsed lungs, I had all kinds of internal bleeding,” said Bernstein.
This month Bernstein shared his story in Outside magazine, writing an open letter to the driver who hit him and left.
“You plowed into me from behind when I was riding on a nearly empty road. Your speed was so fast relative to mine that I was guaranteed severe injury, despite my safety tokens: a helmet, a blinky light, and a defensive posture on the right edge of the wide shoulder,” he wrote.
While Bernstein is lucky to be alive, he says he is troubled by the “epidemic of traffic deaths” in the U.S. By telling his story, he hopes to serve as a cautionary tale for drivers. His goal is to use his experience to encourage drivers to slow down and eliminate distractions in their vehicles.
“I think that it’s important that all of us remember that just a moment of inattention or miscalculation can have dire consequences, and I think we need to remember that every time we get behind the wheel,” Bernstein said.
More than nine months later, Bernstein remains partially paralyzed in his left leg and suffers from chronic pain, as well as several other ailments related to the crash. He continues to go to physical therapy 5 to 6 times per week.
The 34-year-old has made major strides in his recovery as well. Currently, he can walk with the help of crutches, and has started cycling at home.
“It’s just a matter of time,” he said. “Just a matter of remaining dedicated and staying in physical therapy and staying on my exercise program every day.”
For now, he’ll keep pushing forward, but hopes everyone remembers why he has to in the first place.
“I think if we all remember that when we’re driving we have to take the responsibility very seriously,” he said. “We can look out for each other in that way and we can ensure that more Americans are able to conduct their lives safely.”
On Sunday, Colorado State Patrol had no updates to provide regarding Bernstein’s case.