For decades Don Schrader has walked everywhere.
Citing the fact that it’s better for his health and “far better for our very sick Mother Earth” the iconic 77-year-old says it’s been 44 years since he owned a car and 22 since he’s ridden in one.
Then, last Tuesday — clad in his trademark cut-off jean shorts and wheeling his hand cart — Schrader was crossing the street near the South Broadway Public Library on his way to tape his four-times-a-week public access TV program when he was hit by a car.
“I saw a car coming from the north and it was coming crazy fast,” Schrader told the Journal, speaking by phone from his room at the University of New Mexico Hospital. “Foolishly I went across the street. When I saw that coming I should have just waited until it passed, but I didn’t.”
Schrader said the car crashed into him, knocking him over, and then sped off.
Now he has a long road to recovery.
He said he had elbow surgery and knee surgery where the femur connects to the kneecap, both on his right side, and will probably be transferred to Lovelace Medical Center for rehab.
“If I lie perfectly still like a corpse why the pain is maybe only one or two but if I move much the pain — particularly in the right elbow and the right knee — is an eight, nine of 10,” Schrader said.
He said a police officer responded to the scene and spoke with someone from the library who witnessed the crash or the immediate aftermath but he has not made any reports or had any more contact with law enforcement about it. A close friend was able to collect his cart and bring it to a room he lives in at another friend’s home.
Schrader said he isn’t able to identify the vehicle that hit him or the driver and he doesn’t know if the person was high on drugs or alcohol, thought he was homeless and hates homeless people or recognized him and “hates what I stand for, as a human being, publicly.”
Regardless, he said, he forgives them.
In a wide-ranging conversation Monday night — during which he touched on his raw vegan no-sugar diet, how he came to Albuquerque in the 1970s as a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War and the friends who have called or visited him over the past week in the hospital — Schrader said he had been planning to devote some of his TV program that day to the man who murdered his grandparents in rural Illinois in 1976.
“I was thinking of — last Tuesday — including in my program…that story of his horror and heartache and heartbreak and that if someone, someday murders me, I ask my friends and family to offer forgiveness and friendship to that person, especially if that person shows real remorse,” Schrader said.
As for when he’ll be back on the streets?
“I don’t know,” he answered. “I don’t know. I might call for a Sun Van but I don’t know.”