Ottumwa man hit by SUV while riding bike recovers with routine exercise

Remi and Betty Panlaqui walk at Quincy Place Mall in Ottumwa Monday morning/Beth Waldon, KTVO

An Ottumwa man is a walking miracle after being struck by an SUV last fall while riding his bike.

Remi Panlaqui, 74, credits his rapid recovery to a lifetime filled with exercise.

The Sept. 26, 2018 bike accident was reported in Ottumwa just before 8 a.m. Panlaqui was riding his bike on Mowrey Avenue when he was struck from behind.

"My body literally flew,” Panlaqui said. “Like a bird, from the point of impact, to the (ground) 20 feet."

Panlaqui said he doesn't remember much from there.

"Fortunately, I was wearing a bike helmet," he said. "My head slammed on the pavement, and I was left unconscious."

He received treatment in Iowa City for severe head and back injuries.

"The doctor said, we will see in three to four days," said Panlaqui's wife, Betty. "And after four days, he (blinked his eyes)."

After regaining consciousness, Panlaqui was reminded of his accident.

"My eldest daughter showed me the picture," Panlaqui said. "And I was asking... 'Is this me?' I didn't recognize myself."

He received more treatment in Illinois, which is also where he spent the next few months for rehab.

The couple returned to their Ottumwa home Jan. 10. Since then, they have continued their weekly walks with Active Ottumwa at Quincy Place Mall.

"January 12th, we went (to the mall), and he walked and he walked," said Betty Panlaqui.

Remi said routine exercise at the mall, and at home, has help him regain his strength.

"I don't want him to be stagnant, or not doing anything," Betty Panlaqui said. "So inside the house, he's walking up and down the stairs, and we are doing the aerobics inside the house."

Panlaqui's successful recovery inspires his peers...

"He is a miracle man, in my opinion, he has just astounded family and friends and the physicians," said Active Ottumwa Field Coordinator Sandy Berto.

...and, it inspires him.

"I believe, in my experience, that we can prevail...we can prevail... we can prevail," Panlaqui said.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Active Ottumwa.

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