Coming Home: Marty Kestler’s Recovery

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It’s been five months since Sugarhouse resident, Marty Kasteler, was struck by a white box delivery van while bicycling home late one evening with his wife, Niki.


Photo by Ryan McCalmon

“I remember hearing the motor rev up, but I don’t know at what point I realized it was coming after me,” Marty states. The unidentified driver ran over a curb, the sidewalk, and through a guardrail before hitting Marty head-on. The perpetrator immediately drove off, leaving Niki at Marty’s side. Marty recalls moments specifically before and immediately after; however, he feels that the impact immediately rendered him unconscious. His list of injuries was enormous: cracked ribs, a collapsed lung, a fractured skull, a ruptured spleen, a ruptured blatter, a dislocated shoulder, a shattered pelvis, a broken femur, a cracked sacrum and massive bleeding. According to Niki, Marty went through 30 liters of blood in the first five hours.

Word of the accident spread rapidly throughout Salt Lake City. As a piercer for KOI, and a member of the Salt Lake City Bike Collective, Marty is a prominent member of SLC’s thriving underground scene. Immediately, the community’s support flooded in. Local businesses welcomed donation jars, club owners set up benefit concerts, www.helpmarty.org was created for updates and a local burlesque troop washed cars in order to raise money for the Kastelers. “I have total gratitude for all the help we’ve received, it’s been amazing,” Marty gushed. Niki, also grateful for the financial help shared, “While he was in the hospital, Marty was worried [how] he was going to pay the mortgage.” All of the donations collected covered this and numerous other expenses. “It’s allowed me to heal without losing our house,” Marty added.

After a three week stay at LDS Hospital, much of it spent in the ICU, Marty was moved to a rehabilitation center. During the next seven weeks Marty spent time healing there. “My youngest dog, Olive, was able to come and sleep with me; that made the stay nice.” He credits the majority of his support to his wife Niki, “she has done everything [and] she reminds me of what’s worth while in this life, especially when I feel down.”

It has been four weeks since Marty has returned home, and he progresses day by day. He still has several important obstacles to overcome. He must still undergo several operations to repair the damage that was done to his bladder and spleen. When asked when he thinks he will walk again, he states, “As soon as the doctor says my hip is ready to go, I’ll go.” Originally he had hoped to begin walking at the three month mark, now with that time frame behind him, he waits anxiously to get back to his passion: cycling. When does he project to get on a bike after relearning to walk? “The same day,” Marty exclaimed with a coy smile. Amazingly, Marty said the accident has not changed his outlook on cycling at all, and he still loves the sport. With all the recent accidents involving cyclists, I asked if this life-altering experience would turn him into an activist. He responded, simply, “I’d always meant to, but this was a literal shove into activism, [but] I don’t really see myself as a vigilante of bicycle rights just because I was run over.”

To this day, neither the vehicle nor assailant have been caught. Rather than focus on the negative aspect, Marty and Niki are overwhelmed with gratitude for the local (and national) support that continues to flow into their household. When asked what he would say if he had everyone who has helped them in one room, Marty murmured a simple, but emotional “thank you.”

Niki and Marty keep frequent updates on www.helpmarty.com, where you can also make paypal donations. If you are interested in sending a donation through the mail to the Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective, in the memo note, please write that it is for Marty Kasteler. Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective ATTN: The Marty Kasteler Fund P.O. Box 2400 Salt Lake City, UT 84110.