Paralyzed victim of hit and run in CA flown home to Columbus - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Paralyzed San Francisco hit and run victim flown home to Columbus one year later

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

A Columbus native is under constant medical care following a devastating hit and run accident in San Francisco that left him paralyzed and unable to speak.  

Now one year later, Selester "Les" Rowe has finally come home now that his family can pay for the special direct flight that he needs. 

This homecoming wouldn't be possible without the generous donations from Rowe's classmates, friends, church congregations, and people from the community who have never met him.  Everyone came together and raised the money that this man desperately needed to be reunited with his family after he's been alone in California for all this time.

Selester Rowe, the 1968 graduate from Spencer High School in Columbus and student of the Tuskegee Institute, has seen better days.  After a long career in architecture and music, Rowe found himself homeless and living in California.  And if things weren't bad enough, Rowe became the victim of a nearly fatal hit and run accident when he was struck by an SUV and left for dead at the corner of Columbus Avenue and Stockton Streets in San Francisco

Rowe lived down the street from Georgia Representative Calvin Smyre while growing up in Columbus.

"I was devastated because I knew that he had moved to California, but I just didn't realize his situation- that he had become homeless and that he had a serious accident," said Smyre.

A committee called ‘Help Les' was formed to raise the funds.  Willy Jones is originally from Miami, Florida, but he's been staying in Columbus since March to assist with the effort.

 "It broke my heart that he was hit by a hit-and-run person and he hasn't been apprehended yet.  I'm in law enforcement.  I'm a federal U.S. marshal and we will get this guy- whoever did it," said Jones.

 "We needed to have him home, because we thought he would do better, in fact we know that he would do better, at home with us and with people who loved him and his friends," said Rowe's sister Headercine Russell.

Paralyzed, unable to speak, and thousands of miles from the people he needed, Rowe needed over $17,000 for the special plane with medical personnel that could bring him back home to his family.

Phyllis Jones of the ‘Help Les' Committee, said, "$17,400 is a large amount, but we raised that in less than 2 months.  Through the grace of God, we got it done, and the support of the community.  We have some good people here in our area and we want to thank them again."

Former San Francisco 49er Monk Johnson was Rowe's classmate at Spencer High School and helped lead the effort to raise the money.  He remembers Rowe well from those days.

 "Just being a real clean cut guy.  A real nice guy.  Always dressed real nice.  That's what I remember most about him.  A real good guy," said Johnson.

The journey has finally come full circle, from the accident on the street sharing the same name as his hometown, to  his recovery and transport back to Columbus , Georgia.  Though still bed-ridden, Rowe can now return to the waiting arms of his 87-year-old mother.

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