A young queer activist in Vancouver says he’s received overwhelming support from the community after a devastating accident left him seriously injured.
Samonte Cruz, an office and volunteer coordinator at Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Out on Campus group and a co-organizer of the local queer dance party Prance, was struck by an SUV while crossing Knight St at 41st Ave on the evening of Feb 26.
Suffering a broken neck and a fractured sternum among other injuries, Cruz was rushed by ambulance to emergency at Vancouver General Hospital.
Despite the split-second nature of the accident, it didn’t take long before friends were by his side.
“His pregnant sister had called me, and I called a cab to get down there right away,” says Amber Louie, who now coordinates an online calendar where friends can sign up to help Cruz with everything from delivering meals to caring for his dog, Milo.
But with the Olympic rush, no taxi could be found. So Louie called on two friends who picked her up and joined her at Cruz’s bedside.
“I went into protective mode, feeling grateful to be here with him through this,” says Louie. “I’ve been friends with Samonte for seven years. I absolutely love his guts, and this is still beyond words for me.”
Wanli, a co-organizer of Prance, says the group has missed Cruz’s humour and generosity since the accident. “We all went and visited him at the hospital when we heard. Some of us decided to gay up his room with mustaches, beads and his very own personalized disco ball.”
Cruz is also being missed at SFU, where he has worked to spread queer consciousness and create safe spaces on campus.
“[He] is one of the unsung heroes of SFU and the queer community at large,” says one of his colleagues, who goes by KM. “He’s a great mentor and a great guy to share ideas with.”
Now back at home, Cruz wears a neck brace and relies on home care workers to manage daily tasks. Although the ease and speed of his recovery are uncertain, Cruz says he’s focused on healing.
“People have really been stepping up and taking responsibility for me in a way that I could never have anticipated,” he says. “I’m counting my blessings every day.”
Cruz and those close to him are still awaiting a police report on the accident, as police and ambulance services were reportedly slowed down by Olympic activity.
An ad has been posted on Craigslist seeking witnesses to the accident.