PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Off and on for 20 years, Joe Guevara worked at Mother’s Bistro in Portland. He was a server, a busser, a manager and a host.
In fact, said owner Lisa Schroeder, “He’s been the face you see when you first come in the door at Mother’s. He means a lot to this family.”
On November 4, Guevara — whose nickname is Jody — stopped by Mother’s to pick up his tips, Schroeder told KOIN 6 News. “He was on his way home and he was really close to home” when his life instantly changed.
Just before 6 p.m., he was in an unmarked crosswalk on SE Division at 101st Street when he was hit by a Toyota Prius, Portland police said. The Prius was then hit by a Ford van which trapped him under the Prius.
Both drivers involved in the crash that injured Guevara were cited: the Prius driver was cited for failing to stop for a pedestrian and the Ford drive was cited for careless driving.
“Oh my God, he was a mess,” Schroeder said. “I mean, he is a mess, but 10 broken ribs on each side, 20 broken ribs, 2 broken scapula, a broken C7 neck, facial fractures, part of his nose got ripped off and his mouth, teeth broken.”
Guevara — who turns 48 on Sunday — was on a breathing machine for a while. “But he’s out of ICU, so we’re happy about that,” Schroeder said.
From his hospital bed in Portland, Guevara spoke with KOIN 6 News and focused on the love and said he’s grateful to be alive.
“I love my co-workers. They are my second family,” he said. “I’ve been better but I’m doing great considering what has happened to me.”
He said he thinks he’s still alive because there’s still something he needs to do.
“Something wants me here. There’s a reasons I’m still around and now it’s time to really start asking the true questions in life.”
His family is in Texas. “He named me as kind of next-of-kin,” Schroeder said. “So I had to jump in and help make decisions at the worst time when he was in ICU.”
Restaurant workers are a tight-knit group.
“You know, in the restaurant business you work with people for so many hours a day you become like family. Well, after 20 years they’re adopted already,” she said. “He’s like one of my kids and he’s one of the siblings to everyone who works here.”
Jason Kastrup has worked with Guevara for 17 years.
“Jody is someone who just makes life funny and loving. He truly is. He has the biggest heart,” Kastrup told KOIN 6 News. “Just having him around makes things brighter. He’s one of the people who’s like a light in the room. You know when he’s around and you know when he’s not.”
At the time of the crash, Guevara worked fewer than 30 hours a week at Mother’s Bistro. Schroeder said he didn’t qualify for health insurance although they were working to get him qualified for the Oregon Health Plan.
“But when he gets out of the hospital he is not going to be able to return to work right away,” she said. “He doesn’t have a cushion. He’s a working guy and what is he going to do when he gets out? How is he going to pay his rent? How is her going to feed himself?”
That’s why she set up a GoFundMe account for him.
“He’s going to need all the help he can get and if anybody deserves our love, it’s Joe Guevara.”
His friend and co-worker Jason Kastrup said, “I don’t want him to go through this. I don’t want anyone to go through this. But since this is the truth that he knows, seeing so many people rising up to help him is so beautiful.”
“I hope Jody knows how much he’s loved, how much we’re pulling for him,” Schroeder said. “All our thoughts are with him and hoping that has something to do with what I’m seeing as a very speedy recovery.”
Guevara told KOIN 6 News that what keeps him going is “love of life, love of family, love of friends.”
“He shared the love that Mother’s has for our guests,” she said, “and I couldn’t have a better emissary for what we do.”
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