When Grant Bonavia was seriously injured Oct. 23 at an intersection in Kensington, Dr. Frederick Beavers, a trained vascular physician, happened to be in his vehicle at a stoplight less than 10 feet away.
Beavers, reached by phone Wednesday, said he and his son were heading west on Saul Road and were stopped at the intersection with Connecticut Avenue. As the light on Connecticut turned yellow, Bonavia saw a pickup truck traveling north slam into a utility pole, pinning Bonavia.
“I saw it and I knew he was severely injured, so I got out of my car to check on him. He was alive and talking, but his right leg was pretty shattered,” Beavers said.
Beavers got out of his car and rushed to Bonavia’s side.
A group of bystanders had gathered within 10 feet of Bonavia, and Beavers asked for a piece of clothing he could use as a tourniquet to stop Bonavia’s excessive bleeding. Someone handed Beavers a shirt. Another bystander called 911.
Beavers said a rescue crew came quickly , but during that time, he wasn’t sure Bonavia would survive. Bonavia, a Navy commander and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center radiologist, Beavers said, was conscious most of the time. But his breathing was labored and his face was pale.
“There was a time when I thought he was dying,” he said.
Beavers said he put pressure near Bonavia’s groin while another man, who identified himself as a doctor, put pressure on his lower leg. Two women, one of whom identified herself as a physician, kept Bonavia conscious.
Beavers said Bonavia had the presence of mind to provide a crucial piece of information.
“He was able to tell us his wife’s name and telephone number,” he said.
Bonavia has been recovering at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda. He has had multiple surgeries and is recovering from multiple injuries, including a broken femur, pelvis and ankle. He has also had multiple blood transfusions. Doctors are unsure when or if he will fully recover.
Bethesda Beat has made multiple requests to get a copy of the crash report. Officer Jonathan Raimondi, of the police department’s records management section, said Friday that the report was still in draft form and had not been approved for release.
Bonavia, who rode his bike to and from work, was standing on the sidewalk.
“I think what helped him is that he had his bicycle helmet on,” he said.
Beavers, who has worked at several Washington, D.C., area hospitals, said it was instinctive for him to respond as soon as he saw Bonavia get hit.
“It’s one of those, ‘You can’t believe it’s happened.’… You want to make sure he’s alright,” he said.
Beavers said it wasn’t just good fortune that three physicians were in the right place at the right time when Bonavia was injured.
“You could say it was happenstance, but it’s not. We were all meant to be there, even though we were all on our way,” he said.
Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.firstname.lastname@example.org