ANTIOCH -- It's the kind of nightmare you read about it. Only for this Antioch family, it has become a tragic reality.
Rich "Dick" Fletcher was driving home from work on his motorcycle Aug. 16 when the driver of a Honda sedan cut him off. Fletcher tried to speed up to move away, but the Honda began moving erratically, going from lane to lane and trying to catch up. After a few minutes, Fletcher told his family, he slowed back down when he no longer saw the car. But as he looked back one last time, there was the car directly behind him, bearing down on his back wheel.
Several witnesses later told authorities the driver deliberately hit Fletcher. His motorcycle erupted in flames, forcing CHP officers to shut down three lanes of eastbound Highway 24 just before the Caldecott Tunnel. The suspect gave chase and was shot by a CHP officer investigating the crash. The Concord resident now faces charges of attempted murder, felony hit-and-run and mayhem.
Fletcher, 47, suffered a broken spine, four broken ribs and severe road rash, and is now paralyzed from the waist down.
The special construction inspector is now in a spinal recovery therapy center, where he faces a long road to recovery with surgeons uncertain he will ever be able to walk again, according to a website dedicated to Fletcher.
"It is awful, but we are pulling together," said daughter Alex Fletcher. "As a family we are strong and this accident has really brought us closer. We have all come together to show my dad that he isn't alone and that we are going to fight this battle every step of the way."
Alex Fletcher said her family -- which includes her mother, a 19-year-old sister who is in college, and at 15-year-old brother who is a sophomore at Freedom High School -- are "staying focused on the fact that my dad is alive and mentally the same exact man he was before the accident, instead of dwelling on how difficult and drastically different our life will be."
The 21-year-old said her mom, Laura, is staying strong.
"They have been together since (they were 14 years old) and she has literally not left his bedside, except to shower."
Friends and the community are rallying around Fletcher, who is the main provider for the family.
"The support we have received from the entire community is overwhelming and absolutely amazing. I feel like this one bad situation has opened my eyes to so many beautiful and caring souls," Alex Fletcher said. "No one will ever understand how much the love, support and positive wishes help keep our family motivated.
"The fundraisers being held are wonderful, and the only source of income we have right now, so we are beyond thankful."
Leading the way is Fletcher's best friend, Brian Martinez, who is coordinating the fundraising.
Friends since childhood, Martinez said the two were each other's best men in their weddings.
"We grew up together in Pacifica ... We're brothers by choice," Martinez said of the 40-year-plus friendship.
The Half Moon Bay resident said all proceeds will help with the financial burden of rent, utilities, car payments, insurance and the like, plus college tuition.
Martinez has set up a page to take donations, and several events on the calendar to help the family.
First up is a salmon dinner and raffle at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 29 at the Pacifica American Legion Hall Post 238, 555 Buel Ave. in Pacifica. Cost is $30 and is a pre-sale ticket event. Also scheduled is a Halloween party from 6 to 1 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Pacifica Community Center, 540 Crespi Drive. Included will be music, food, drink and a silent auction. Pre-sale tickets are $10.
Then from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 20, there's a cut-a-thon at Wild Orchids, 1328 Sunset Ave. in Antioch. Cost is $25 for a haircut or manicure. For an appointment, call 925-756-0666. Alex Fletcher works at the shop. Owner Lori Lopez was quick to help, and understands all too well the importance of community giving.
Lopez's daughter, Tami Clark, was involved in a severe boating accident the previous August and many helped support her via fundraisers, too.
"It's so sad; like I'm reliving it," said Lopez, who added her shop has a donation parcel up for anyone wanting to help. Also, there will be ongoing bake sales there.
For more information, visit www.richfletcherrecovery.com.
Reach Trine Gallegos at TrineG@att.net.
What: Cut-a-thon to support Richard Fletcher and family
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 20
Where: Wild Orchids, 1328 Sunset Ave. in Antioch.
Cost: $25 donation for a haircut or manicure.
Info: For an appointment, call 925-756-0666.