By JOHN HARLOW | Editor-in-Chief
“I can deal with the pain of my broken bones, but I wish I had my memory back,” said Giuseppe Vitolo, an Italian visitor to the Palisades who was knocked 30 feet into the air by a hit-and-run driver on Pacific Coast Highway 10 days ago.
On Tuesday he was discharged from a local hospital to start what may be months in rehabilitation, a broken leg and arm in casts, and his mind still reeling in shock.
“I am trying to stay off the pain killers,” he told the Palisadian-Post. “I am dealing with the pain.”
“But what is difficult is that my brain has gone away for the last week, and I do not remember details about the person who did this to me or how it happened.
“This is why I need to speak to him, to find out how this happened to me.”
Yet, even if some memories are foggy, the basic, horribly brutal facts are clear.
On Monday, July 31, Vitolo, 35, who has been helping out at Casa Nostra restaurant in the Highlands, was driving home on his yellow Yamaha Tmax scooter to his mid-Wilshire home.
He was thinking about life at the beloved family restaurant, which is part owned by Giovanni Zappone and his family, who hail from the same part of Italy as he does.
At around 10:30 p.m., Vitolo turned from Sunset Boulevard left onto PCH and was approaching the Bel-Air Bay Club—at which point his memories stop, abruptly.
Two witnesses said they saw a driver parked on the right suddenly pull out from the curb and attempt a U-turn across PCH to head north toward Malibu.
Instead the dark-colored car collided with the motorbike and Vitolo was hurled 30 feet into the air, landing on the northbound carriageway which, perhaps miraculously, was empty of traffic.
He crashed down at high speed, breaking a leg and arm and suffering internal injuries.
The driver paused for a moment, looked across the lanes at his unmoving victim and then sped away, said the witnesses.
“I don’t remember any of that,” Vitolo said on Tuesday.
“I am waiting for the police to tell me more details—I think they must be tracking this driver down on CCTV. And I am trying to speak to anyone who saw the crash.
“I understand that accidents and other bad things happen, but then to run away, that is not good. This is not a driver who takes responsibility for his actions. I could have been alive or dead, he did not know—or care.”
Vitolo has many friends in the Palisades.
“He is known to many people, and had been very good to my wife Rose and I when we were planning vacations on the (Italian) Amalfi Coast, where his family comes from,” said Highlands resident Christopher Gaynor.
“We feel he is part of our extended family and for this to happen, and for the hit-and-run driver to evade his responsibility like this—maybe he was on drunk, or on drugs, or just did not want to deal with it. But Giuseppe is in so much pain, and no one deserves this.”
Friends from the restaurant have rallied around and found him clothing to replace garments lost in the crash. And he has medical insurance. But Vitolo faces months of rehab and a lot of pain ahead.
The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating the hit-and-run. A felony arrest can be followed by four years in jail, $10,000 fine and compensation for the victim.
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