Parksville resident Fred Buott knew he was in for a tough few months.
A pensioner who collects bottles and cans from his three-wheel bicycle to supplement his income, a looming hernia surgery at the end of July will have him resting up and unable to collect recyclables for several months.
But being run off the side of the road at the beginning of July only made things worse. Now, his tricycle, his only mode of transportation, is damaged and unsafe to ride.
However, Buott’s friend, Cynthia Sonsalla, is hoping to turn things around for him with a GoFundMe page.
She hopes to raise more than $3,200 so Buott can buy a new, electric-powered tricycle so he can keep collecting bottles, and have a little bit of extra cash to get by as he recovers from his surgery.
“I welcome the assistance because I’ve got to be off my feet for an extended period of time until the doctor says OK, I’m fit,” said Buott. “So I’ve got to have a bike that I can get around on, and this bottle-picking, that’s a big job, you know.”
Buott said he was riding his tricycle and pulling a trailer full of recyclables to the Parksville Bottle & Recycling Depot on the shoulder of the Alberni Highway on Thursday, July 5 when a black truck drove onto the shoulder to pass a white vehicle.
“I had no place to go, so what I did when I seen there was no place to go, I pulled over towards the grass area to make more room,” he said. But, knowing the trike would not make a tight enough turn, he leapt from the bike, falling into the ditch.
“I was in the ditch, the bicycle went in the ditch, the trailer went in the ditch, cans all over the place,” said Buott. “The truck didn’t stop, he went around the corner and up and gone in a hurry, and I didn’t get the licence number of the truck. All I know is it was a black truck, about a three-quarter ton pickup.”
The driver of the white car stopped to help Buott pick up his cans, and another driver pulled over to help him pull his bike and trailer from the ditch.
The accident left Buott’s bike damaged and unsafe to ride with the front forks bent, but his friend, Sonsalla, is hoping to raise enough money for a new ride for Buott: one that will allow to him continue to earn money with his bottle-collecting even after his surgery and as he gets older.
She began a GoFundMe page (www.gofundme.com/fred039s-bike-replacement) asking for $3,249: $2,249 for an electric tricycle that Buott could also pedal from Belize Bicycle, and the rest for shipping, assembly and a bit to help Buott during recovery.
“(The tricycle) is heavy duty for what he needs, because after his operation, he cannot ride properly for at least three months,” said Sonsalla.
“It’s an awful important thing for me, because right now I’m fighting a hernia,” said Buott of the fundraiser.
Buott said he’s been collecting bottles and cans since he retired from French Creek Seafood at the age of 65. He’s now 76 years old.
“I’m retired and I’ve got a small pension (but bottles really help) and it keeps me busy,” he said.
The GoFundMe page can be found at www.gofundme.com/fred039s-bike-replacement.