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Victim of Toronto's deadly streets speaks out: 'I’m insanely lucky to have come out alive'

“She just didn’t see me. She T-boned me brutally.”

“It sounds stupid, but that bike was my best friend,” Jessica Spieker says as she looks over the bent and twisted frame of the bicycle she was riding when she was hit by a driver on Bathurst Street. “Seeing it like that made me cry.”

Liz Beddall/Metro

“It sounds stupid, but that bike was my best friend,” Jessica Spieker says as she looks over the bent and twisted frame of the bicycle she was riding when she was hit by a driver on Bathurst Street. “Seeing it like that made me cry.”

Jessica Spieker remembers unlocking her bike and putting on her saddlebags before heading to work on May 20, 2015.

The next thing she remembers is waking up in the emergency room.

Spieker, a personal trainer and owner of Full Swing Fitness, was cycling on Bathurst Street when she was hit by a left-turning driver near Shallmar Boulevard.

“She just didn’t see me,” Spieker, 32, said. “She T-boned me brutally.”

The collision fractured Spieker’s spine – but fortunately no nerves – tore ligaments in her left leg, damaged her bladder and left her with a brain injury that temporarily impaired her short-term memory.

“I’m insanely lucky to have come out alive,” she said. “If she had hit a senior, I think it would have been a very different story.”

It took months of rehab and recovery for Spieker to reclaim a sense of normalcy. But just as she was getting back on her feet, a blood clot in her leg – a result of the injuries she sustained – made its way to her heart, causing a bilateral pulmonary embolism.

“It was sudden-death territory,” she said. “My heart felt like it was popping out of my chest and tearing my lungs open.”

Spieker made it to the hospital, but spent the summer recovering. Prevented from doing “anything more strenuous than climbing a single flight of stairs,” the normally active young woman spent months on the couch.

“It was just awful,” she said.

Liz Beddall/Metro

The collision also put strain on Spieker’s mother, who worked around the clock to help care for her daughter.

“It’s not that hard being the injured one. You just have to focus on your rehab. It’s harder to care for someone who’s hurt than to be hurt,” she said.

Even a year later, Spieker wrestles with the legacy of the crash.

She got back in the bike saddle as soon as she was able to, but admits to bouts of road rage when drivers pass too closely or endanger her while she’s riding.

“If I never got on my bike again, they would have won,” she said. “My mom wasn’t a big fan of it, but I told her it wasn’t negotiable.”

The physical scars – including a “hood-shaped dent” in her leg — are also a constant reminder of what happened.

And like many victims of Toronto’s deadly streets, Spieker feels let down by the legal system. The driver who hit her got her charge reduced to improper signalling and was handed a $300 fine.

“According to traffic court, my life is worth $300,” Spieker said. “It just fills me with rage.”

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