Another Hit And Run, Louis “Birdman’s” Story

By Sara Bond

On a beautiful Monday afternoon, I found myself in Santa Monica sitting in a garage lifting wights while talking to Louis Deliz, also known as Birdman. A fellow Midnight Rida and Westsida, Louis is a professional bike racer and in late 2009, became the victim of a drunk driving hit and run.

Louis "Birdman" when he raced on the Le Grange Racing Team

Louis "Birdman" when he raced on the Le Grange Racing Team

Today, he smiles and laughs, through the scars that have etched their way across his face and down his neck. He shows me his right hand, his fingers had been mangled in the accident and he is unable to bend them. Earlier that morning, he found out his hip, which is now made of steel, will be okay and he will be able to put the pressure he had been putting on it without the guilt. He tells me all of this with a laugh and that crazy sparkle in his eye, the same one I remember seeing months prior. Though he has been through so much, Louis is still the same old Louis, only stronger.

I ask if he doesn’t mind sharing the details of that fateful night, and he sits back, puts the pin in the bottom of the weights and tells me to push on the weights with my legs. I look at him as if he’s nuts, I’ve never lifted weights before, let alone ALL of the them at one time! He laughs at me, “What do you think, you got chicken legs?” I ponder this for a moment, he is right, I do have a pair of cyclists’ legs but doing what he is suggesting seems impossible. I look at Louis, who is unable to lift the weights yet is sitting here coaching me and I realize that him even being here at all seems impossible, but it’s not. I push my doubt aside and give it my all. To my surprise, I do three in a row.

Louis settles in and eats his sandwich, between slow bites, he tells me that on December 1, 2009, right after midnight, he said goodbye to his girlfriend and made his way west on Sunset Blvd. taking a left on La Cienga and descending towards Santa Monica Blvd. where he would then continue back home to Santa Monica. However, as he made his way toward Hollaway, the cross street, the light blazing green, an SUV coming in the opposite direction, did not yield to oncoming traffic (a cyclist is considered traffic) and made a left onto Hollaway crossing Louis’ path. Louis then veered left himself, braking, but was not so lucky. His body banged into the back, right hand side of the SUV, his face entering the back window only to be jerked free as the SUV swerved forward and into the gas station where it u-turned back onto La Cienga and continued North toward Sunset Blvd., leaving Louis in the middle of the intersection.

Louis takes a break from the story and I sit back, astonished at what I had just heard. As a fellow cyclist, myself, I cringe, and ask if he’s okay. He laughs and asks if I am okay. I smile reassuringly, and let him know he can continue whenever he wants.

Louis tells me that a man put his car in front of him to block oncoming traffic and told Louis that help was on the way. The men at the gas station called 911 and gave them a description of the SUV. It took paramedics an hour at the scene to stabilize Louis before he was able to take the eight minute ride to Cedars Sinai. During this time, a police officer who was en route to the scene, heading East on Sunset, passed an SUV that was just described over the radio and pulls it over as a routine traffic stop. As the driver rolled down the window, the police officer smelled the liquor emanating from inside the car, so he gave the driver a field sobriety test to which the driver failed and was detained. Four hours after the accident, at Cedars Sinai Hospital, the driver’s blood was taken and the alcohol level was recorded at .05. At the time of the accident, the driver was eighteen.

Louis was rushed into the emergency room and taken right into surgery for his face and hip. He then spent eleven days in the I.C.U. and was kept alive by machines as he was out in a chemically induced coma for approximately 8 days. Louis is not all laughs, his tone changes through the story, but he never wavers in his confidence for knowing what he has lost and how much he has gained. He lived at the hospital for forty-nine days. Through Christmas and New Years and even his Birthday. His family and friends guided him day in and out. And the voice of his girlfriend gave him strength as he heard her in his dreams during a time he could not hear or understand anyone.

Louis has finished his sandwich now, and his story. And I am finishing my arm weights at 25. He won’t let me stop until I can do twenty-five in a row. We find ourselves, two friends, finding joy in the tiniest of instances after rummaging through memory of the biggest instance that has changed Louis’ life forever. He tells me it killed him. That when machines keep you alive, you are basically dead. This truth and many others Louis has brought to my attention today, makes me push harder and though I am weak in the arms and do my twenty-five, just not in a row, his relentless attitude proves why he is sitting next to me, alive and laughing.

This Monday, March 22 at 1:30pm at the Beverly Hills Courthouse, the driver of the SUV will be arraigned. I will be there with his family and many other cyclists to stand with him. Because he is not alone as the Los Angeles cycling community is much more than just that, but a family. As this could have happened to any one of us, it has. And the most inspiring of all this, Louis is still here, still pushing, still living. And he cannot wait to ride his bike again.

A happy Louis "Birdman"

A happy Louis "Birdman"

My story is my story, it is what happened. I hope that if anything I can inspire at least one person a day to wear their helmet and not to drink and drive, and then my job for that day is complete.” Louis Deliz

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12 Responses to “Another Hit And Run, Louis “Birdman’s” Story”

  1. I looked up this case, and the docket says the driver was all ready arraigned on February 25, entering a not guilty plea to both counts:

    1) cvc 20001(a) – felony – hit and run with serious injury.
    2) cvc 23136(a) – infraction – person under 21 yr old with BAC above 0.01

    On Monday, the hearing is supposed to be a Preliminary Setting, which is when they discuss schedules to figure out a date for the Preliminary Hearing.

  2. Sorry about your friend but…. Any native to Santa Monica will tell you that there is only ONE bicycling Birdman and his name is not Louis. If you lived in the area any time in the last 30 years you may have seen him riding his beach cruiser shirtless collecting cans kakaing and Woody Woodpeckering all over pacific park, down town and boardwalk. If you went to SAMO in the 80s-90s you DEFIANTLY know who he is.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. A little this, a little that — Sadik-Khan, Street Summit, bike stats, bike art, Lance rants « BikingInLA - March 18th, 2010

    [...] tells the story of the Birdman, the survivor — barely — of yet another horrifying hit-and-run. Damien notes that authorities [...]

  2. Streetsblog Los Angeles » Next Week’s Hit and Run Trial: The Assault of Louis “Birdman” Deliz - April 15th, 2010

    [...] and Midnight Rider was the victim of a hit and run last December. He give his account to Sara Bond at Bikeside of the crash that left him hospitalized for almost two weeks with scars on his face as a souvenir. [...]

  3. Local bike cases slowly wind their way through the courts « BikingInLA - April 29th, 2010

    [...] Hollywood hit-and-run (notice a common theme here?) that seriously injured professional cyclist Louis “Birdman” Deliz. Celine Mahdavi (Case #SA073459) – Victim – Louis [...]

  4. Bikeside Speaks! Saturday, May 22nd, 5pm - jeremygrant.com - May 14th, 2010

    [...] Mihai Peteu: Winning with Data – Crowdsourcing & LA Bike Map * Sara Bond: Personalizing Hit & Run * Jeremy Grant: Connecting LA with the Backbone Bikeway Network * Enci: Moving LA with The [...]

  5. Bikeside Speaks! Saturday, May 22 @ 5pm /  illuminateLA - May 18th, 2010

    [...] Mihai Peteu: Winning with Data – Crowdsourcing & LA Bike Map * Sara Bond: Personalizing Hit & Run * Jeremy Grant: Connecting LA with the Backbone Bikeway Network * Enci: Moving LA with The [...]

  6. Louis “Birdman” Deliz’s Hit and Run Trial Delayed | Bikeside LA - June 14th, 2010

    [...] learned about Louis’ devastating hit and run a several months ago and just recently we met at the Bikerowave. Louis was allegedly left hooked by [...]

  7. Judge Eldon Fox to Mahdavi: Don’t Drive Without A License, 90 days community service for maiming | Bikeside LA - July 20th, 2010

    [...] Celine Mahdavi hit Louis Deliz so hard that his teeth were embedded in her car, then drove away, Deliz’ body dislodging from her car and landing face down.  He lost most of the lower half of his jaw, all his lower teeth, broke both legs, broke nearly all his fingers, broke his hip, and punctured a lung (if memory serves.)  Just a few days ago, Louis had a massive seizure, and he is still seeing double from it.  To this day he can’t walk right, he can’t talk right, he can’t see right, and he has nightmares and flashbacks.  Mahdavi, 18 at the time, was pulled over a half mile from the accident where she tested positive for alcohol. [...]

  8. Ride out for your rights: Beverly Hills Protest Take Two « SoCal Soft Pedal - July 30th, 2010

    [...] is yours for the taking and we all respect traffic laws. The recent lame, lame, lame sentencing of drunk SUV-driver Celine Madahvi who hit cyclist Louis Deliz would indicate that the trendy wave of Villaraigosa-style car-free enthusiasm may be just a bit of [...]

  9. Victim of Hit and Run, Where Louis Deliz is 3 Years Later | Streetsblog Los Angeles - March 29th, 2013

    [...] after he had been released from the hospital and wrote the story of his near-death experience on Bikesidela.org. Three years later, I met with Louis for a second time and found myself sitting cozily in his West [...]

  10. What the f*** is wrong with Beverly Hills?????? | BikingInLA - April 11th, 2013

    [...] Hills police and courts have repeatedly dropped the ball on cases involving cyclists. And while they have responded to [...]

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