A cyclist was riding his bike down a street in Tennessee when his life changed forever—a driver slammed into him going 40 miles per hour. The young man was left bloodied on the pavement.
The driver rushed to see if he was okay, but he was not.
Amongst his other injuries, the 24-year-old was paralyzed from the waist down. Understandably, the driver was distraught. She thought she would be sent to jail, but even worse—she thought she ruined the man’s life forever. It began a cycle of self-hate and abuse that would spiral out of control.
But this particular cyclist was not like other people, and what he did next for the woman surprised and touched everyone.
Doug Francisco was riding his bicycle down a street in Tennessee when he was hit by a car.
Last year on April 27th, Doug Francisco was riding his new bike, a 21-speed he bought off of Craigslist, down a street in Berry Hill, TN. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Freya Markowski ran a red light and hit the unsuspecting Francisco.
She was going around 40 miles an hour, and the force of the blow caused the young man to fly into Markowski’s windshield and then onto the pavement.
Markowski jumped out of her car to check to see if the bloodied man was okay.
“I felt like I’d killed someone,” she said according to USA Today. “I remember being in a black hole.”
Markowski suffered from bipolar disorder, and that day—for the first time in years—she had been off her medication. Moments before the accident, her mind had been bombarded by countless voices that caused her to lose focus of the road in front of her.
“I forgave her at the beginning.”
Francisco was alive, but in bad shape. Markowski waited with him until the ambulance arrived to take Francisco to the hospital. However, the whole ordeal left Markowski with a sinking feeling in her stomach. The very thought of what she had done pushed Markowski to start using heavy drugs, and several months after the accident, before her trial, she was admitted into a local hospital to treat a serious heroine overdose.
Little did she know, Francisco had a secret.
“I forgave her at the beginning,” Francisco said according to USA Today.
The accident had left Francisco paralyzed. It tore his spinal chord, which meant that he would never walk unassisted again. But for Francisco, it had truly been an accident. Markowski had not meant to hurt him.
Francisco wanted to to support Markowski from the very beginning and tell her he forgave her.
He had spent the next five months in and out of physical therapy, all the while attempting to locate Markowski to tell her he was okay.
“I forgave Freya because it didn’t make sense for me not to,” Francisco said in a video published by Humankind. “The best thing for her is forgiveness and knowing that I’m doing okay.”
But he could not track her down. That was, until, he received a long text message from Markowski.
“Flashbacks of your body covered in blood haunted me,” Markowski wrote according to USA Today. “I would’ve traded places with you in a heartbeat…I lost my soul after the accident. I want you to know not a day goes by without me crying for your pain.”
“I thought I was going to jail that day.”
That was when Francisco knew what he had to do. Francisco sent his father to the woman’s trial, as he was still unable to make it, and when Francisco’s father saw Markowski, he gave her a big hug.
Furthermore, the charges were dismissed. Markowski was understandably blown away.
“I thought I was going to jail that day. Instead this angel of a man shows up with open arms. David’s dad gave me a really big hug,” Markowski said according to USA Today. “How is that possible? The dad of the guy who I paralyzed?”
“I forgave myself the moment David held me in his arms.”
Later, the two would end up meeting one another, and Francisco’s first words to Markowski were a god-send.
“Bring it in,” Francisco said according to USA Today, before hugging Markowski himself.
And for Markowski, who had never forgiven herself for the accident—Francisco’s simple, but powerful gesture finally helped to bring closure and forgiveness.
“I forgave myself the moment David held me in his arms,” Markowski said according to USA Today.