BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — It was already dark when Richard Rawlings went for a ride in December 2020, but with lights equipped on his bike the 55-year-old Navy veteran wasn’t concerned.
Those lights, however, didn’t pick up, at least not until it was too late, something Rawlings never expected to come across as he pedaled along a central Bakersfield sidewalk — an open manhole.
Rawlings is suing Caltrans, Bakersfield and Kern County on allegations of negligence and leaving public property in a dangerous condition after he crashed and suffered a litany of injuries — including possible brain trauma. A hearing on the suit was scheduled today.
According to an account of the crash contained in the suit, the bike’s front wheel dropped into the hole and Rawlings lost control and went flying. He lost consciousness and was taken to Kern Medical where a slew of injuries were reported: broken facial bones and nose, broken teeth, cuts on his forehead and scrapes to his left shoulder and right leg. He underwent two plastic surgeries.
Perhaps most significantly, the filings say Rawlings suffers from vertigo, dizziness, blurred vision, mood swings “and other abnormal bodily functions which are indicative of traumatic brain injury.”
The suit says no cones or warning signs were placed in the vicinity of the manhole on South H Street near Loustalot Lane.
Rawlings is represented by Gabriel Sepulveda-Sanchez of Sepulveda Sanchez Law in Los Angeles. The suit seeks damages in an amount greater than $25,000 to be presented at trial.