Tribute ride held to help paralyzed cyclist

SAN DIEGO - More than 1,000 cyclists turned out for a tribute ride Tuesday night to raise money for a cyclist who was critically hurt after being struck by a wrong-way driver on Fiesta Island last week.

On Aug. 12, Juan Carlos Vinolo, 43, was with a group of 16 to 20 cyclists who were hit head on by a Geo Prism driven by 49-year-old Theresa Owens.

Eight bicyclists were hurt, but none more seriously than Vinolo, a father of two young children. Prosecutors say he suffered permanent paralysis from the waist down, a collapsed lung and lost a kidney.

The fundraising ride began at 6 p.m. at the entrance of the San Diego Youth Aquatic Center at 1750 Fiesta Island Rd.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who attended the event, spoke with 10News about why it was so important.

"I'm an avid cyclist myself," he said. "I cycle out here on Fiesta Island several times a month, so it hit home to me personally, as it did to literally thousands of people that cycle across the San Diego community. It's great to come out here tonight … to show that strong community support and come together as a cycling community."

San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman was also in attendance.

On Friday, Owens pleaded not guilty to felony charges of driving under the influence of a controlled substance and possession of methamphetamine. She is being held on $300,000 bail.

A fund to help pay for Vinolo's medical expenses has been established through GoFundMe. Click here for more information.

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