AVON PARK - A 24-year-old deaf Annapolis, Md. man bicycling to visit the 30th and final Major League Baseball stadium in Miami was struck by a truck around 9:40 p.m. Saturday, on U.S. 27 north of Highlands County.
Jacob Landis was alert and responsive, but "appeared extremely confused and was unable to communicate due to his hearing apparatus being knocked off," said Donna C. Wood, a Polk County spokeswoman.
Jonathan Riddle, who was riding in front of Landis, said they were coming from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. The Rays had won an 18-inning with the Baltimore Orioles the night before, and the two bicyclists were trying to make up time.
While pedaling south in an area with no lighting, a semi-truck pulling a refrigerated trailer passed the bicycles. Riddle heard a thump. The cyclists believe a truck mirror clipped Landis.
Landis fell onto the west highway shoulder. Riddle believed the semi was a blue Freightliner with a white trailer. The driver did not stop after the accident. Polk County detectives believe the truck driver may not have been aware of the accident.
"When his cousin first approached him, he thought the worst because he saw a crumpled heap on the ground," Lois Landis, Jacob's mom, told Bay News 9.
Landis was transported to Florida Hospital-Heartland in Sebring. He was treated for a concussion, broken nose, fractured left cheek bone, road rash and other bruising from falling from his bike.
Landis, who has been biking since April, rode 10,800 miles, hitting 29 of the 30 MLB stadiums. When the accident happened, he had 180 miles to go.
"Somehow or another, he has committed himself to finishing it. Not tomorrow, not on the designated day, but he is committed to getting those miles done," said Lois Landis.
So far, Landis has raised $140,000 to help the hearing impaired get fitted for a cochlear implant. Landis slowly lost his hearing after birth. He was deaf by age 10, when he received an implant.
"Yesterday, with less than four miles to go to the hotel, I was struck by a tractor-trailer's mirror. I don't remember anything that happened until I woke up at the hospital," Landis told EyeonAnnapolis.net.
Landis was expected attend a finale party at Whole Foods in North Miami on Tuesday along with a finish line rally at Marlin Park before attending the last game of Jacob's Ride, Miami Marlins vs. Philadelphia Phillies at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday.