On Sunday, Nov 6, our friend, author and artist Paul Madonna (All Over Coffee) was involved in a hit-and-run accident. He was driving home from his studio, as he did daily, in his SmartCar through McLaren Park when he was struck head-on by a Mercedes Benz driving in the wrong lane at approximately 65 mph.
Fortunately, three sisters on their way to the grocery store happened to witness the event and immediately sprung into action. They called 911 while the driver of the car fled the scene. They then called Paul’s wife Joen, who rushed to the horrific scene within minutes, given that their home was less than a mile away. She was able to be by Paul’s side as he was lifted into the ambulance.
Paul was rushed to SF General’s world-class trauma center where he underwent four hours of emergency surgery to address substantial internal injuries (including an injured liver and spleen, and his stomach tore through his diaphragm forcing essential internal organs into his lung). He also sustained a brain blood bleed, a broken nose, a torn carotid artery (which will never heal), an injured shoulder, an extremely painful nerve issue in his swollen left leg and a shattered right heel. Considering, what the level 1 trauma emergency doctor described as “an impressive level of injuries,” Paul is expected to make a full recovery, but he has a long long road ahead. We are incredibly thankful to the staff at SFGH for their unbelievable expertise and care.
Here’s where things stand: he has a 9-inch incision on his abdomen from the surgery where they had to reposition his internal organs. Paul was transferred from the ICU on Wednesday and remains in the medical surgery care unit. He is on a chest tube for drainage to ensure his collapsed lung fully recovers. Due to the combination of a shoulder injury, non-weight-bearing broken heel and his painful left leg nerve damage, he will likely be in a wheelchair for the next few months. As he continues to progress in his recovery, he will be transferred to a short-term rehabilitation facility this week to help him navigate his mobility challenges and environment.
The reality of his limited mobility means that Joen and Paul will have to modify their home to accommodate a wheelchair, an adjustable bed, etc. They anticipate other structural modifications will be needed to offer workable living arrangements. In a few weeks, he will undergo surgery to repair his shattered heel, which will require pins and plates and additional physical and occupational therapy.
As many of you reading this know, Paul has an incredibly dedicated art practice. He writes and draws every day in his studio. Aside from being an artist and writer who has made a successful career from his art, he is also a small business owner. Every expense is his own, from paying his insurance to renting his studio, to the myriad expenses he outlays monthly to maintain a successful small business. While he has health insurance, this type of event is above and beyond any personal or private health policy. We all thank our lucky stars that Paul’s dominant hand was not injured during the accident, but this event will deeply impact his practice for the foreseeable future.
This is what we know, but there is so much we do not know about what comes next. We are taking it one day at a time. Paul and Joen, who is the executive director of ArtSpan, are pillars of the SF art community, and many people have reached out to them to ask how they can help. This GoFundMe will help them fill the gap and cover the medical expenses and home retrofitting they are now facing as Paul recovers. If you are reading this and you know and care about Paul and Joen, please share this. Every little bit will help them achieve some sense of normalcy and peace of mind as they face the many challenges ahead.