MERCED -- The pain is close to being bearable now and Timothy Berns has hope on several fronts -- that the person who ran into his motorcycle will be caught and he will be able to return to work with a prosthetic leg.
Life changed dramatically for the 48-year-old prison guard the evening of June 14 when his Harley Davidson motorcycle crashed on Santa Fe Drive at Buchanan Hollow Road and he lost his left foot and ultimately his left leg.
"It's in God's hands; I'm letting God handle it. I'm thankful; I could have died there real easy," Berns said.
He is frustrated the California Highway Patrol hasn't determined what he knows -- a car with a single square headlight veered into his path and he lost his foot in the impact.
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Berns' mother, Bonnie Berns of Carmichael, has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the accident as her son was returning to Merced from his job as a correctional officer at Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla.
Berns said the down time is getting to him. The pain and discomfort from the accident and breaking his hip after the first of several surgeries is lessening somewhat, but Berns says he still can't sleep at night.
Officer Shane Ferriera of the Merced Area Office of the CHP said Berns' wreck still is being investigated and there is some new evidence suggesting there was another vehicle. Ferriera said originally there was no independent witness to corroborate Berns' statements that a southbound vehicle crossed over the double yellow line into his lane.
Berns has been a correctional officer for 13 years, five of them at Blythe, before moving here when the new Chowchilla prison opened. Since losing his leg and being confined to a wheelchair, he has realized some things in life are more difficult and access issues are difficult in his home.
The father of five just became a grandfather several days ago and an orthopedic surgeon tells him he could be back to work in February.
Ferriera said anyone with information about the Berns crash should call his office at (209) 356-2900 or (209) 356-2956.