Wife of crash victim Juan Carlos Vinolo says husband is 'fighting for his life'

Vinolo now on breathing device

SAN DIEGO - The wife of a cyclist critically injured in last week's crash on Fiesta Island said her husband is now using a breathing device and is still too ill to undergo surgery.

On Thursday, 10News spoke with Emma Irarragorri, the wife of 43-year-old Juan Carlos Vinolo. She was clearly heartbroken as she spoke about her husband.

"The past week has not been easy," said Irarragorri, holding back tears outside of UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest. "Juan Carlos has been in critical condition since the accident."

Vinolo, who is an avid cyclist and father of two, remains in the intensive care unit and now on a breathing tube. He was hospitalized after a group of cyclists, led by Vinolo, was hit head-on by a suspected DUI driver.

"He has shown a positive attitude and courage, reminding me why I fell in love with him," his wife added.

Irarragorri also told 10News that her husband has several broken ribs, punctured lungs, a spinal cord injury and has lost a kidney.

He's been too ill to even undergo his first of what's expected to be numerous surgeries.

"If he survives, he will be paralyzed from the chest down," she said.

She added, "A few days ago he said, and I quote, 'I want the possibility to rebuild my life and the opportunity to give back to my wife and children what this accident has taken from us.'"

In court last Friday, 10News cameras captured the suspected driver, Theresa Owens, as she uttered these words to the bailiff: "Tell him I'm so sorry."

On Tuesday night, 10News returned to Fiesta Island where more than a 1,000 cyclists rode around the island in Vinolo's honor.

His wife said he watched 10News' reports and was extremely overwhelmed by the community's support.

"It moved our hearts to see the cycling community," she added.

She said it is that support and prayers which are helping to get Vinolo well.

"He's fighting for his life and he's going to make it," Irarragorri said.

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