Author Rita Gladding writes in her foreword, “All of our lives are filled with a myriad of numbers, dates, and statistics to remember, review, and ponder.”
For Rita, those numbers come from the day the tragedy occurred: September 16, 2018, the date Rita’s son, Gavin, was killed by a hit-and-run driver.
The loving husband, father and Clovis Unified educator was training for a marathon when he was struck in the pedestrian lane on Friant Road.
Rita says, “As we walked through the ER, it was like a dare to walk and there were nurses on both sides. Just the look on their faces told me this was a lot worse than I thought.”
It was at the end of that road that Rita was told by doctors that her only son would not survive his injuries.
Hours later, Gavin’s mother would receive another devastating blow.
Rita says, “Two people were in the car that killed him, and they called another gentleman. They had returned to the crime scene twice that morning, two hours after killing him, to make sure there was no evidence left.” I felt betrayed, quite sick to my stomach. How can a human being do that?
All three people involved in the crash, including the driver, served less than three years in custody combined.
“They are living their lives and my two grandchildren, who were eight and ten years old at the time, will never have their father again,” Rita said.
In November, Assemblyman Jim Patterson, Rita and their loved ones led the campaign to toughen penalties for hit-and-run drivers.
“Gavin’s Law” would have increased the minimum prison term for hit-and-run drivers from four to six years, but the bill never made it to the governor’s desk.
Rita’s book, now available on Amazon, details the drive to carry on Gavin’s legacy.
As the prologue says, the book is not about pain. It is a path to healing. Something Rita hopes to bring to other families going through similar pain.
“Deliberately, forgiveness has also become a part of our lives. It won’t change what happened, but it may change what we hope will be Gavin’s legacy.”
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