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Karl Moritz clings to life following crash on SE Ladd

Posted by on July 2nd, 2010 at 10:36 am

Karl Moritz, seen here with his three sons, is in a coma at OHSU hospital following a crash Tuesday night.
(Photos: Moritz family)

This morning, 47 year old Karl Moritz clings to life in the trauma unit at OHSU after a crash Tuesday night near Ladds Circle left him with a host of very severe injuries. His family, which includes his wife Staci Moritz is not sure whether he’ll pull through.

I talked to Staci on the phone this morning. She says Karl is comatose and is not responding to commands. “Worst case scenario, they told us, is that he’ll never wake up… but that’s worst case, so we’re hoping…” Staci and Karl have three young boys ages 2, 4, and 7, who she says, “Worship their dad.”

When the Moritz’s babysitter called Staci on Tuesday to say Karl wasn’t home yet, her heart sank. “He’s been cycling for years from Beaverton at Nike to Hawthorne… He’s never late.”

Karl was riding south on Ladd Ave when he went to pass some other riders and then had a mechanical issue that caused him to lose control of his bike and veer into an oncoming car. He was found under the car and was dragged 20 feet after the collision.

The police report mentions that his bars began to wobble. One officer that investigated the crash found Karl’s chain had been broken, leading him to speculate that it might have fallen into the back wheel just prior to the crash. According to Staci, the police see this as a “no-fault” incident and simply a freak accident. The car is not suspected of speeding.

Staci says she was disturbed to read comments about the crash that alleged Karl was riding carelessly. “He has a workshop at home and maintains his bikes like they’re his babies… It was not carelessness.”

The collision left Karl with multiple skull fractures, a traumatic brian injury, a fractured jaw and a broken pelvis.

[Reporter’s note: Despite the severity of these injuries, for some reason the Police Bureau initially reported that they were not serious. I point this out because, after talking with a PPB spokesperson on the phone, that’s how I initially reported it. I later updated the story when they acknowledged the injuries were serious. However, even in a follow-up conversation, the PPB spokesperson maintained the injuries were not life-threatening.]

Staci Moritz realizes her life may never be the same. She has already left her job to be Karl’s full-time caregiver. She’s also worried that without either of their incomes, the medical bills will soon overwhelm her. When asked how the community could best support her family, Staci said the primary thing — besides positive thoughts for Karl’s recovery — is financial donations to help care for her children. Staci’s brother Jim Hart is working to set up a donation page for Karl and expects to have it online any day now.

Stay tuned for information on fundraising efforts. Stay strong Moritz family. We are all pulling for Karl.

UPDATE: Here’s how you can help the Moritz Family::

For anyone who would like to contribute, we have set up a fund to help with our children’s care while Karl (hopefully) recovers. Anyone interested in contributing can mail a check made out to “Donation Account for Karl Moritz” NOTING ACCOUNT NUMBER (in memo line) 153662964771 to:
US Bank
1225 SE 39th Ave.
Portland, OR 97214

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61 Comments
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    Amos July 2, 2010 at 10:43 am

    My thoughts are with Karl and his family. I trust that the community here and throughout Portland will come together to help however we can. Please keep us posted.

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    Paul Tay July 2, 2010 at 10:43 am
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    151 July 2, 2010 at 10:45 am

    It’s sounding like a genuine accident with tragic consequence. I’m really hoping those kids don’t lose their father.

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    pat h July 2, 2010 at 10:46 am

    I am hoping for the best outcome for Mr. Moritz.

    I commute on SE Ladd too and can only vividly imagine the circumstances of the collision.

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    Dave July 2, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Wow… sincerest best wishes to Karl and family. We’re all pulling for you.

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    Marcus Griffith July 2, 2010 at 10:48 am

    My thoughts and prayers are with Karl and his family.

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    sam July 2, 2010 at 10:49 am

    This breaks my heart and scares the hell out of me, all at the same time. Strength and hope to Staci and her family. Maybe someday people will learn to think before they speculate in a public forum – it’s awful to imagine Staci reading some of the comments here while her husband lies in a coma.

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    Vance Longwell July 2, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Man I knew that ‘not conscious’ thing at the scene was big trouble. Said as much in comments. Doggone folks, I am sorry to here about this.

    Does the family have any immediate needs that this-here incredibly-poor person may help with? I can’t do much but haul groceries, or mow a yard, but I’m down, as always.

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    Anonymous July 2, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Thoughts to Karl and family but also to the driver who is most likely suffering as well.

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    Dan July 2, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Sounds like dumb bad luck. It’s scary; we are incredibly dependent on everything working right, and it doesn’t take much for things to go wrong. Food for thought next time I’m descending Rocky Butte…

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    Fellow Bike Commuter July 2, 2010 at 11:05 am

    With 3 kids at home, organizing the neighborhood to provide dinners for the Moritz family would be an excellent idea. Our thoughts are with you and your family, Staci.

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    K'Tesh July 2, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Karl,

    You and your family are in my Thoughts and Prayers. As is the driver.

    Heal Fast!

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    bahueh July 2, 2010 at 11:29 am

    I’ve seen mechanicals lead to bad accidents in some races…never a good thing. Worn out chains, cracked rims, blown out tires…all happen without warning and can easily cause major injuries.

    Wishing him a strong recovery…and best to the family.

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    Peter Smith July 2, 2010 at 11:32 am

    Hope he pulls thru.

    I wish I could picture what happened here. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. A head on collision?

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    Joe July 2, 2010 at 11:33 am

    I had a friend crash and go into a coma. think good things and visit if you can. he made a full recovery. it can happen

    prayers
    Joe

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    MIndful Cyclist July 2, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Positive thoughts to all people involved!

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    Aaron July 2, 2010 at 11:43 am

    This is so very sad. My prayers to Karl and his family.
    As someone who’s often ridden on bikes that are not in top condition, I am dubious that a mechanical failure would cause a highly experienced cyclist to lose control so severely. If he was passing other cyclists than he would be going extra fast, but most experienced people would allow themselves to crash to the right and deal with parked cars or a sidewalk rather than moving cars. Did the police do skid analysis to confirm that the oncoming car wasn’t speeding?

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    bahueh July 2, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Peter (#14)..yes, basically a head on collision….he went under the car…

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    bahueh July 2, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Aaron…it can happen quite easily with increased speed. broken chains throw off a riders balance for a split second, bike wobbles, rider hits ground…same with old rims or high pressure tires.

    watch enough road races you’ll see it…stop trying to blame the driver.

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    Schrauf July 2, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    The police are wicked cold when it comes to describing the extent of injuries. My wife broke her neck and jaw in a “right pull out” bike/car crash, and that was reported as “no serious injuries”. If they are trying to err on the side of caution, they are doing society a disservice by motor vehicle involved crash injuries consistently being reported as less significant. “Gee, driving fast must be safe – there was that big wreck and only minor injuries!”

    Good luck Karl.

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    Did I miss it? Again? July 2, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    First, and most importantly – best of wishes to the Moritz Family.

    Secondly-
    Why are some still trying to assign blame? Skid analysis? Really? 20′ is what was reported above; assuming the vehicle is the Sonoma pictured (which is equipped with anti-lock brakes), that is less than 2 vehicle lengths.

    Stuff happens. It sucks, sometimes really bad (like now).

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    rigormrtis July 2, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    @17 Aaron,

    It would be nice if the rider had the actual time to think about which side to fall to. Most mechanical failures do not provide the rider that luxury.

    If you snap your left handlebar or your left hand slips, you fall to the left. If your chain snaps on a left downstroke (as has happened to me), you fall to the left.

    Please try to remain objective and not pose every hypothetical in favor of the cyclist and against the driver.

    Not every accident has blame to be assigned.

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    Huggybear July 2, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Thoughts and prayers with you and your family.

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    bottombracket July 2, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    How fast was the car going to be able to drag the cyclist 20 feet beneath the car??? Even at full legal speed, I would think a person could stop their car in much less distance. Our thoughts are with you Karl.

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    SilkySlim July 2, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Karl has been my neighbor for years, and our household wishes him a speedy and full recovery.

    He rides all year around, solo and ferrying the kids all over Hawthorne.

    I always look forward to seeing him roll up after his long commute, to sit on the front porch and breathe deep for five minutes before entering his busy household. I often arrived home the same time, and we always shared a nod and a wave across the way.

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    trail user July 2, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    I’ve always wondered how much of an inconvenience a full face helmet would be.

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    Anonymous July 2, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    “I would think a person could stop their car in much less distance.”

    Okay BB here’s the math.

    30MPH = 30 * 5280FT = 158,400 FT/Hr
    Seconds in an hour = 1hr * 60min * 60sec = 3600

    Distance travelled in 1 sec at 30MPH = 158,400/3600 = 44ft

    Average persons reaction time 1.5 sec (explains the two second rule for distance between vehicles on the road)

    Distance traveled before brakes even applied = 1.5sec * 44ft = 66ft

    Even accounting for a .5 second reaction time from the driver the vehicle travels more than 20FT before brakes are applied.

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    rod July 2, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    Best thoughts for recovery.

    Ever since becoming a biker two years ago I have started driving much, much more slowly around town – almost to the point of annoying drivers behind me.

    I do this because I always want to be able to stop in time, no matter how a situation arose, no matter whose fault it is.

    I am always looking out for bikers and pedestrians now. Always.

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    freeman July 2, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Sad, sad day…sorry bike brother….hope/love/well wishes.

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    Denise July 2, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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    Joe Metal Cowboy Kurmaskie July 2, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    I’m sick over this. Hoping for the best for Karl and Staci and the kids. That could be any of us. If meals for the family are needed we’d like to send one. Please pull thru, Karl.

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    Opus the Poet July 2, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Trail User #26

    I rock a full-face in TX year-round, and during the summer it can be a pain, but something that can be lived with. It’s slightly more uncomfortable than a regular bike helmet, and way more uncomfortable than no helmet at all, until the face hits the pavement. Fortunately that has only happened twice to me, once with a regular bike helmet, and once with the full-face (Giro MadMaxII). The healing from the regular bike helmet wreck took the better part of 2 weeks, and a bit of surgery, the wreck with the full-face helmet resulted in no injury (aside from my pride), just a scuff on the side of the helmet that you have to look hard to find. I now use a Bellistic model, because that was what my LBS had when I went to buy a replacement for the Giro.

    In short I strongly support riding with a full-face helmet. I can live with the taunts and jeers much better than drinking my meals through a straw or looking like Jonah Hex. That said, I don’t think a Bellistic would have helped in this wreck.

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    matt picio July 2, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    The body is a remarkable and resilient thing. In some cases, comatose patients can quickly regain consciousness and make a full recovery – I hope Karl turns out to be one of those cases. Best wishes to Karl, Staci and their family.

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    David Guettler July 2, 2010 at 4:37 pm

    Being the first person besides the driver of the car to see the accident, the description of the crash does not match what I saw. It sure looked to me that the car was behind the rider, and the rider must have fallen into the path of the car, because I saw the car driving over Karl. It did not look like he was hit by an oncoming car. Unfortunately, I did not see how the accident happened, only the results.

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    BURR July 2, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    If he worked at Nike, he should have very excellent health benefits.

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    Daniel Ronan July 2, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    My best for Karl’s family and friends. Keep heart.

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    Staci July 2, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    Dear David Guettler,
    This is Staci, Karl’s wife. Thank you for your post above. I would very much like to talk with you about what you saw as a witness to the accident. If you don’t mind, could you post some info as to how I might contact you? Or maybe email me at the address below?

    Also, I am overwhelmed by the offers of meals and support for our family. So deeply touched and reminded why I live in this amazing community. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    I can be reached personally at s.moritz1969@gmail.com .

    Thank you so very much.

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    Crash N. Burns July 2, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    My thoughts are with you Karl.

    I agree with Matt Picio #33. A friend of mine was struck by a public transit train while living in Europe. He had severe brain injuries and swelling, many brain surgeries and was not expected to make a complete recovery, if at all. But he did recover. It took quite some time and he had to relearn many things. He is now a totally functioning adult and leads a full life.

    I can only be optimistic at a time like this. I wish Staci the best in this extremely difficult time and hope that these coming days show improvement for Karl.

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    EB Kim July 3, 2010 at 12:00 am

    I used to work with Karl and would love to help get him and his family back to 100%! If anybody knows how to contact his wife, Staci, please let her know to get in touch with “Gloria’s Angel Foundation.” http://gloriasangels.org They can help support the family while Karl recovers. Thank you. You’re in our hearts and prayers Moritz family! (And driver).

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    jim July 3, 2010 at 12:37 am

    My prayers are with you Karl, Staci, and familly.

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    Staci July 3, 2010 at 10:39 am

    For anyone who would like to contribute, we have set up a fund to help with our children’s care while Karl (hopefully) recovers. Anyone interested in contributing can mail a check made out to “Donation Account for Karl Moritz” NOTING ACCOUNT NUMBER (in memo line) 153662964771 to:
    US Bank
    1225 SE 39th Ave.
    Portland, OR 97214

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    Tamara Rubin July 3, 2010 at 10:53 am

    This sort of thing happened to my good friend less than 3 weeks ago. Her husband is sending out daily posts to friends via e-mail. Today was post #19. In the first few days they thought she would never speak again, and perhaps never walk again. Today she is using a walker (with assistance), speaking (limited words) and doing physical and mental therapy re-hab activities. She is 67 years old and will have to re-learn everything as if she was a 3 year old (speech, time, context for objects and people). She had a massive traumatic skull fracture and brain injury and multiple other physical injuries. Their life changed forever in an instant, but the miracle of modern medicine is amazing. And with Portland having some of the best medical resources available I am certain Karl will be given every possible opportunity to recover. My friend was not wearing a helmet (lesson learned) and flew over her handlebars, but so many other factors can play into an accident like this. For the Moritz family I am just so thankful that their children were not in tow behind his bike. That is always my concern when towing my 3 boys around town… “what if”… Staci… don’t be shy and do take advantage of the resources offered by the community! We are all lucky to live in such a great town and to be part of such an amazing network.
    – Tamara Rubin

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    annefi July 3, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Staci,
    Best wishes to you and Karl and the boys. Please keep us informed as to Karl’s progress. We are hoping you will have lots of good news to report week-by-week.

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    Thom Schoenborn July 4, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Regarding the “wobbly” handle bars, I hope he wasn’t riding a Felt.

    http://velonews.competitor.com/2010/07/news/felt-bicycles-recalls-road-bikes-due-to-aluminum-steerer-tube-failures_124377

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    Bob_M July 5, 2010 at 8:03 am

    What a terrible thing

    Wishes for a full and quick recovery.

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    BURR July 5, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Trek Madone 6 models have had similar CF steering tube failures.

    I once had half a handlebar break off on me while riding.

    Then there are the 70’s french AVA ‘death stems’.

    mechanical failures like this aren’t unheard of.

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    28 years of TBI July 5, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    I’m having a terrified adrenaline rush just reading about this. I ride Ladd often, and never think to fear oncoming traffic because I know they can see me. Never dreamed of my bike throwing me into their path.

    It took me a full year to come back to an approximation of normal after my (auto) accident and TBI in 1982. Medicine wasn’t nearly as informed about brain injury then – one of the few good things that can be said about recent wars is that they have greatly improved understanding and care of TBI.

    Best of luck, care, healing and patience. The brain seems to be both very delicate and very resilient. We can accommodate and come back from a lot.

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    Adam July 5, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    So sad, my prayers are with him and his family for his recovery.

    On a different yet related note, Ladd Ave could use speed bumps or speed tables like there’s no tomorrow. There’s SO MUCH car traffic on the boulevard that shouldn’t be there.

    My friend who lives in the neighborhood once told me that a few years ago, the Safer Routes to School Project had $20K of funding to install them on SE Ladd (because of its proximity to Abernathy Elementary School). The school voted in favor for installing them, but the neighborhood association voted AGAINST them, so they were never installed.
    So sad.

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    Kelly July 6, 2010 at 9:38 am

    My three sons. I remember when Staci and Karl’s youngest was born 2 years ago. Karl was so happy — he told me they are “My 3 sons,” isn’t that cool & we both laughed. I knew Karl – he was a fellow Technical Designer at Nike & a very good one. He always had that goofy and sweet smile on his face, especially when we were admiring latest photos of the boys. Karl is a really good guy & this is breaking the hearts of all who know him.
    Best to you Staci, I know this is just the beginning of a very long road – any way it goes. I pray the blessings will be many and that Karl can make that long road back to you, and to us – his friends.

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    Staci July 10, 2010 at 6:51 am

    This is Staci, Karl’s wife with an update. Yesterday, I spoke with the police officer who wrote the police report. He was emphatic that the only witness to the actual accident was the driver, who is certain that Karl was NOT attempting to pass other cyclists. He simply was riding on SE Ladd toward SE Lincoln, lost control of his bike somehow (the chain was not broken as previously reported) and fell into the path of the oncoming car. I felt it was important to clarify the facts.

    Karl remains in a coma in the ICU and we are told by the Chief of Trauma services that if he does not regain consciousness in 3 to 8 weeks, “he probably never will”. We did see an encouraging sign, however, in the last couple of days. His nurses report that he has been opening his eyes and appears to be trying to focus. This progress is wonderful news but we must be very carefully optimistic at this point. He remains in critical condition in a comatose state.

    Thank you everyone who has reached out to our family with kind words, well wishes and offers of tangible assistance. We need all of the above so very much in this time.

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    David Guettler July 10, 2010 at 10:03 am

    I was the first on the scene besides the driver. While I saw the accident happen, I did not see how it happened. The event was traumatic enough for my mind to play tricks on me, needing four or five days to determine what I saw, but still nothing would contradict what the Police or driver has stated.
    This has changed the way I commute. Even though I thought I was a careful cyclist before, I find myself riding slower, with more patience and courtesy, an approach many of us would benefit from.

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    Staci July 10, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    A website for Karl has been established by family and friends. Please go to http://www.helpforkarl.com to read more about him and the fund esablished to benefit him and our children.

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    Staci July 10, 2010 at 5:39 pm

    A website for Karl has been established by family and friends. Please go to http://www.helpforkarl.com to read more about him and the fund esablished to benefit him and our children.

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    stevef July 15, 2010 at 11:48 am

    I found this through a facebook link to the helpforkarl.com page. Word is spreading about this and people that don’t know Karl or his family care very much anyway. I know I do.

    This hits close to home. I ride a lot, I have very young kids. I think about these things often. I donated what I could to help out and I will pray for Karl and the whole family. I wish there was even more I could do!

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    Karl July 20, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Wow, three years since my life almost ended, still peddling forwards!

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    Bill Stites July 21, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Great to hear from you, Karl. Your incredibly difficult situation is an inspiration to move forward for all of us … slowly, but surely.
    Best to you.

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    Karl July 21, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    Bill, Thank you! I am in the process of writing a book that I will title. “My Longest Ride” , which will cover my journey from cycling events pre June 29, 2010, post accident-recovery and how I would like to support cycling in PDX; What I have learned about myself, other’s and the Corp world. In time??

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    annefi July 22, 2013 at 8:16 am

    Karl, it is so good to hear from you and that you continue to move forward. I think often of you and your family. I’m sure the BikePortland readers would appreciate an update on the entire Moritz family.

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      Karl July 24, 2013 at 12:13 pm

      annefi,
      Thank you for your comments. I would like to give BikePortland readers a update. But I feel that I would like to give a updated that has more information on me and my family. Still peddling forwards! I do now have my own Motto; “Live today as if it were your LAST day, and tomorrow will be beautiful”.

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    Karl "Kajomo" Moritz April 12, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    Hello fellow B/P, PDX cyclist, I wanted to share a update on my status.
    Hum…, My thoughts are what should a bicyclist survivor do after surviving a nearly fatal bicycle accident? Volunteer at B.T.A. (https://btaoregon.org/) and at Bike Farm (http://bikefarm.org/). And Oh Yeah and you got it, Learn how to build a custom bicycle and here’s the link to my bike build story!
    http://cyclingperspective.com/art-therapy-my-self-propelled-dream-machine/
    Thanks for your time to read my build story and Ride Wise<Karl

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