A Petaluma man on his way to watch the Cardinal Newman High School basketball game on Feb. 20 was severely injured when he swerved his vehicle off the road to avoid hitting a small animal that jumped out in front of his car.

Phillip Paskal, 62, who lives in Petaluma and owns Top Speed Sports in town, was driving on Old Redwood Highway, heading up to Santa Rosa to meet his son — a junior at Cardinal Newman — for the North Coast Sectional division game against Cloverdale. According to his wife, Adrienne, Paskal said a small animal — possibly a dog or a cat — ran out in front of his car, causing Paskal to swerve completely off the roadway and crash his car between two large trees.

Paskal was trapped for more than an hour, while emergency workers used the Jaws of Life to extract him from his vehicle. "After seeing his car, with the whole driver's side completely smashed in, I'm just so thankful he's still alive," said a shaken Adrienne Paskal Monday.

Paskal's condition is serious. According to doctors, Paskal fractured eight ribs, his hip and his pelvis, and suffered a C7 vertebrae spinal fracture. He was transported from the accident to the intensive care unit at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, where he remained for two days. Then, he was moved to the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Rafael, where he remains. Adrienne Paskal said her husband is facing six to eight weeks of physical rehabilitation, which means more than two months away from his business.

"In a split moment, you're whole life changes," she said.

The Petaluma Valley Rotary is helping the Paskal family with meals during Paskal's hospitalization. If anyone would like to help, visit www.petalumavalleyrotary.org. Donations can also be sent to the Petaluma Valley Rotary Trust at P.O. Box 2101, Petaluma, CA 94953.

(Contact Janelle Wetzstein at janelle.wetzstein@arguscourier.com)

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