The lean, 31 year old athlete was sitting across the conference room table from me when he felt the need to apologize for what he was about to attempt: Eat.
I sat quietly as the young man reached into his backpack and pulled out a bottle of fruit juice along with a giant syringe. Instead of a needle, attached to the end of the device was a thin tube about 12 inches long. The man unscrewed the bottle top and pushed the tube deep into it. He pulled the plunger until the barrel was filled completely with bright orange liquid. He took the tube out of the bottle, stuck the end into his mouth then depressed the plunger. Most of the liquid went to the back of his throat. Some trickled down his chin. He dabbed his swollen, scarred mouth with a napkin and looked at me.
"Sorry. This is the only way I can 'eat'," he mumbled. "I can't even use a straw."
Ever since the June 2nd collision that left him with eight missing front teeth, a broken jaw and a fractured cheek bone, Richard Breininger, has taken in all of his nourishment this way. He faces many months of difficult, expensive treatment before he can hope to sink his teeth back into his favorite foods.
The crash occurred at around 7 a.m. on a dry, pleasant morning as Mr. Breininger, an elite amateur cyclist, was riding his bicycle north along the right side of Chicago Avenue in Evanston. When he approached the intersection with South Boulevard the controlling traffic light was green and he proceeded straight. At the same time, a 29 year old woman driving a 2006 Toyota Corolla was proceeding south through the same intersection. Apparently not seeing Mr. Breininger who had the right of way, she swung her vehicle to the left in an attempt to turn onto eastbound South Boulevard. She nailed him head on. The bike's front wheel fragmented upon impact. Its fork was sheared clean off at the head tube. The cyclist fared worse. All of his front teeth splintering on impact with the car and the bones on the right side of his face shattered. Later, in the hospital, he would find flecks of silvery paint from the car imbedded in his skin. He was wearing a helmet, and never lost consciousness. He was fully aware when he looked up from the pavement to see the young driver exit her vehicle talking on her cell phone.
An ambulance rushed Mr. Breininger from the scene to St. Francis Hospital nearby. He remained there for a short time until he was taken by ambulance to Maywood and Loyola University Medical Center where he could receive a more thorough assessment of his severe injuries. He is expected to undergo several surgeries in the coming months.
Mr. Breininger has retained our law firm to represent him.