By Pamela LeBlanc | Thursday, January 14, 2010, 11:48 AM
A 24-year-old woman remains in intensive care at Brackenridge Hospital after she was struck from behind while riding her bike home early New Year’s Day.
Mariel Mentink was pedaling west in the 4700 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard at about 2:30 a.m. when she was hit. She and another cyclist were riding home after a late-night group bike ride to celebrate New Year’s Eve.
The driver fled the scene.
Mentink, a recent graduate of Northern Illinois University who worked as a bike delivery person for Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches in Austin, was wearing a helmet and lights when she was hit.
“That helmet was the difference between life and death,” says her sister, Christine Mentink.
Mentink suffered multiple skull fractures, brain trauma and broken bones in her neck, back, hip and leg, according to her sister. She’s undergone three surgeries. She’s not in a coma, but is medically sedated to reduce the pain.
“She can open her eyes half way and we think she’s tracking people,” Christine Mentink says. “We don’t know how much she’s perceiving because she can’t speak or move.”
Mariel Mentink is the youngest of four siblings, “the baby and the favorite” in a family of urban cyclists, her sister says.
She’s an avid seamstress who was trying to start a business selling hats for cyclists at local bike shops. She has a degree in graphic design.
“She had a car that didn’t work, so her primary mode of transportation was her bicycle,” Christine Mentink says.
Two benefits are being planned to help cover Mentink’s medical expenses.
Social Cycling ATX is planning an event Feb. 5 at Red 7, 611 East 7th St. (No details yet.) Another is planned for 5 p.m. Feb. 25 at Shangri-La, 1016 E. Sixth St. It one will include live music, raffles and donations.
The family is also setting up a fund to help cover medical expenses. I’ll post that information when I get it.
The cyclist who was with Mentink when the wreck happened thinks a gray SUV or pickup truck hit her. Anyone with information about the hit-and-run is asked to call the Austin/Travis County Crimestoppers at 472-TIPS.