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Road to recovery 

Former candidate finally returns home after hit-and-run accident

Three months after he was critically injured in a hit-and-run accident, former Congressional candidate Mark Ortiz is now home and facing mounting medical bills.

The N.C. Highway Patrol has made no arrest in the Nov. 6 incident, in which a vehicle struck Ortiz from behind while he was riding a bicycle on Roberta Road in Harrisburg.

The accident left Ortiz with four broken ribs, three broken vertebrae and a broken pelvis. He's still slightly paralyzed in his left leg.

"It sucks," says his friend, Bonnie Silvers, who owns Natural Harvest Food Store in Concord. "You've just to look at it [like] things happen to everybody and you make the decision to create what you want out of it."

Ortiz, 58, has been active in liberal politics in Cabarrus and Mecklenburg counties. A staunch opponent of the war in Iraq, Ortiz got 11 percent of votes cast in the 2006 primary.

Ortiz says he was careful the night he was bicycling near Harrisburg. "I was very well lit. I had two flashing headlights and a lot of reflectors," he says. "I think if they failed to see me they weren't looking at all."

After his Dec. 21 release from the hospital, Ortiz stayed with friends Kevin and Bonnie Silvers, who organized a Nov. 23 bicycle ride that raised nearly $3,000 for Ortiz's medical costs, until Feb. 2. His auto insurance will cover $35,000. Ortiz's bills, however, could approach $250,000, he says.

The day before his accident, he made payment for private health insurance but says his coverage is in dispute. He filed a complaint with the N.C. Department of Insurance.

He hopes to eventually resume both bicycling and political activism. "I don't know about any more runs for Congress," he says. "That costs money."

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