Hit-and-run victim: 'I have to be positive about it'

Good Samaritan, 27, continues road to recovery after accident nearly took foot

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 27-year-old man, who was helping two women change a flat tire on the side of the road when he was hit and nearly killed by a driver on Southside Boulevard, continues his road to recovery.

Albert Ives was the good Samaritan who was hit and left for dead in June. On Wednesday, He gave News4Jax an exclusive look at his progress as he learns to walk again.

Over the last five months, Ives has shown that he has a spirit and determination that can't be broken. He allowed News4Jax cameras to follow him through his physical therapy session Wednesday.

Initially, he was given a 70-30 chance of keeping his foot, which was crushed by the tire of the White Jeep Grand Cherokee that hit him. But he is beating the odds with grace, passion and the power of positivity.

"At the end of the day, I have to be positive about it. Because if not, I'm going backwards not forward," Ives said.

With each move, no matter how painful or challenging, Ives doesn't let the struggle of physical therapy break his motivation to walk again. 

"It is definitely pain for gain on this one. You have to. Otherwise it's not going to work," said Ives, who visits UF Health Jacksonville twice a week for physical therapy.

He's trying to bounce back after three surgeries and to re-teach his right foot how to bend, stretch and move -- simple, everyday functions most people take for granted.

"You have to re-figure out how to do everything, like brush your teeth, take a shower. You know, get dressed. I have to now re-dress my foot twice a day," Ives said.

The impact of the crash that injured Ives was so powerful that he was knocked right out of his shoes. But the driver took off.

"You do the crime, you've gotta do the time," Ives said. "He ran from the accident that jeopardized my life. And it's turned my whole life around 360. It took away from my job, it took away my apartment, it almost took away my car. Basically, with the blink of an eye, I had to re-figure out how to function my life."

The Florida Highway Patrol has identified the owner of the jeep that hit Ives, but so far no arrests have been made. News4Jax learned the owner reported the Jeep stolen the day after the crash, and the FHP is still piecing its case together.

"Crime pays in these instances. They often get away with it," said John Phillips, Ives' attorney.

Phillips has been able to recoup some insurance money to help Ives pay for the basics, like rent, food and his cellphone. But with mounting medical bills, Phillips fears Ives' act of kindness could end up costing him his financial health.

"Bert's paying every day for (the driver's) mistake, for (the driver's) act. And that's not fair," Phillips said. "We need somebody to step up who knows who did this or who did this and say, 'Look, I did it, I'm sorry.'"

In the meantime, Ives battles through his therapy.

"It's definitely working. I know that for a fact," Ives said, wincing in pain.

Through every grit of his teeth, Ives hopes his work will bring the health he's fighting for.

"This is the victory lap. This is going for the gold medal," Ives said. "And I can't wait to get there, because the finish line isn't quick enough."

Ives said he hopes his story will inspire other hit-and-run victims to stay positive as they recover. He said he hopes to one day pay forward all of the help he's received and he wants hit-and-run victims to know they're not alone.

A fund to help Ives has been set up at GiveForward.com