Published: Friday, May 18, 2012 at 1:56 p.m. last Modified: Friday, May 18, 2012 at 1:56 p.m.
Three weeks after he was beaten and stabbed by an unknown attacker, Austin Ridge vows to return to his familiar spot in Sonoma’s Fourth of July parade.
“He’s always been in the parade, always ridden his bicycle,” said his mother, Kimberly Ridge of Boyes Hot Springs.
“he said he might not be able to ride a bike, but he wants to (be in the parade to) thank the community for everything they’ve done,” she said.
No one has been arrested in the April 25 attack that left Ridge, 28, with a broken jaw, a fractured nose and other head injuries, as well as multiple stab wounds to his arms and torso.
Sonoma County sheriff’s detectives continue to follow leads, Lt. Dennis O’Leary said.
Ridge, a Sonoma native, is well-known by many and recognized by more as the friendly, optimistic, physically disabled young man seen riding his customized tricycle for miles each day throughout the Sonoma Valley.
“He’s kind of a community icon,” said Sonoma police Sgt. Dave Thompson. “He’s always on that bike. With that American flag and with the Christmas lights, he’s hard to miss.”
“There’s great community interest in seeing somebody stand up” for the crime, said Thompson. “they want to know, ‘How’s it going with Austin’s investigation?’”
“Everybody’s rooting for him,” said Thompson.
The violence against the young man has galvanized the community to raise money to help with his medical bills.
“we were sickened, absolutely sickened,” at news of his attack, said Summer Elliott, a longtime friend of Ridge.
Friends, strangers and a host of local businesses, from pizza parlors to gift shops to bars, have donated money or put out collection jars. the number of past, current and upcoming events to raise money for Ridge’s recovery are too numerous to track, Elliott said.
“There’s been so much going on. Sonoma has really come together for him,” she said.
The attack occurred the night of April 24 as Ridge rode his bike in his neighborhood after leaving a favorite brewpub, the Olde Sonoma Public House, at its midnight closing.
A passing newspaper delivery driver spotted him at about 4:30 a.m., badly injured and lying along residential Lucas Avenue. his bike was nearby.
The injuries led to surgery, several days in intensive care at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and weeks of illness and further recovery.
He has twice been allowed to go home only to quickly return to the hospital with complications, including a persistent fever, said his mother.
Wednesday, the troubling high temperature had eased. Thursday he was feeling better but still hospitalized, she said. he is now scheduled to be released on Saturday.
“third time’s a charm,” was his response to the news, his mother said.
Today, Ridge talks through clenched teeth, the result of having his jaw wired, and he’s got another three weeks on a liquid diet. He’s craving a hamburger.
His knife wounds have healed but down the road he’ll need plastic surgery, his mother said.
He’ll be able to have visitors soon, said his mother, but for now, cards and letters are much appreciated and may be mailed to Austin Ridge at P.O. Box 154, El Verano, CA 95433.
An Austin Ridge trust account was set up in his name and donations may be made at any Chase branch.
“We’re getting tremendous support from the valley. we just can’t say enough about how everybody helped and offered to help,” she said.
Her son also is overwhelmed by the support.
“he never knew that many people loved him or cared about him,” said his mother.
That’s why he’s determined to get into the Independence Day parade. It’ll be a chance to visibly thank many people at one time and show them he’s getting better, she said.
“he will be in the parade. whether it is riding in the back of a truck or some other means, he will be in the parade with his family,” she said.