Greg Gustafson remembers a feeling of being hurtled through the air after a vehicle hit him, and afterward pulling himself out of ditch.
What he doesn’t recall is anything at the point of impact or the description of the vehicle or driver who on Oct. 4 struck him and then left.
Gustafson was riding his bike along East Edgewood Drive on Friday, Oct. 4 when between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m., he was hit by a vehicle. He was riding on a blue bicycle coming from town heading east and says he was about 300 feet from Haskill Basin Road when the incident occurred.
“I remember a brief sensation of being airborne,” he told the Pilot last week. “I was hit from behind and launched over the hood before landing on the opposite side in the ditch of the road.”
He says he pulled himself out of the ditch and was able to flag down a driver who happened to be an off-duty U.S. Border Patrol officer who called for help. A Montana Highway Patrol officer responded and then an ambulance took him to North Valley Hospital and eventually Kalispell Regional Medical Center.
Gustafson shared his story in hopes that someone might come forward with information regarding the incident.
As of press time, the Montana Highway Patrol had not responded to a request for information surrounding the incident.
Sitting in bed at the Brendan House, Gustafson shows a picture of his crumpled bike with both a severely bent frame and wheels, and he says his helmet was destroyed, though he’ll keep it as a reminder for anyone who says they don’t need to wear a helmet.
Gustafson suffered a broken pelvis, along with three fractures in his left leg. He had to have surgery to clean up two puncture wounds on his hip and spent several days in the intensive care unit before eventually being transferred to the Brendan House. He expects he’ll end up spending a month total in the hospital and then another couple months rehabilitating at home.
A Whitefish native, Gustafson works seasonally in Alaska as a manager in environmental cleanup and construction. He had just returned home to Whitefish while between projects when the incident occurred. He typically spends fall through winter in Whitefish and often rides his bike along East Edgewood Drive. Though it was dark out when he was riding on Oct. 4, Gustafson was wearing a headlight and a backpack with reflective tape, along with reflectors on his bike.
“I probably could have had more reflective gear on,” he said. “That night there wasn’t that much traffic and riding along that road most people usually give you a wide berth so it’s not an issue.”
Gustafson says he has health insurance so he’s not concerned with medical bills though he estimates they could be $200,000, and he expects to lose a half year of income as a result of his injuries. He also has had the assistance of his brother Glenn throughout the ordeal.
Despite his injuries, Gustafson remains upbeat though he’s likely going to miss the ski season this winter.
“It’s been a long road and I’ve been in quite a bit of pain,” he said. “But I feel fortunate to be alive, it could have turned out so much worse.”
For anyone with information regarding the incident, contact Greg Gustafson at 406-890-5916 or his brother Glenn Gustafson at 406-270-1240.