Grieving Valley mother continues son’s legacy with new book

FRESNO, California (KFSN) – With the writing on each page, a grieving mother transforms her pain into the purpose of her book, “Gavin Gone.”

Author Rita Gladding writes in her prologue: “All our lives are filled with an abundance of numbers, dates and statistics to remember, revisit and consider.”

For Rita, these numbers come from the day the tragedy struck – September 16, 2018, the date Rita’s son, Gavin, was killed by a hit-and-run driver.

The beloved husband, father and Clovis Unified educator was training for a marathon when he was hit in the pedestrian lane on Friant Road.

Rita says, “When we walked through the emergency room, it was a bit like walking with a glove and there were nurses on both sides. Just their facial expressions told me it was a lot worse than I thought.”

At the end of that road was where the doctors told Rita that her only son would not survive his injuries.

Hours later, Gavin’s mother would receive another devastating blow.

Rita says: “Two people were in the car that killed him and there was another gentleman they called in. They had gone back to the crime scene twice that morning two hours after killing him to make sure there was no was evidence left. I felt betrayed, pretty bad in the stomach. How can a human do that? “

The three people involved in the accident, including the driver, were together remanded in custody for less than three years.

“They live out there and live their lives, and my two grandchildren, who were eight and 10 at the time, will never have their father again,” Rita said.

In November, Assemblyman Jim Patterson, Rita and their loved ones led the charge of tightening the penalties for hit-and-run drivers.

“Gavin’s law” would have increased the minimum prison sentence for hit-and-run motorists who kill someone from four years to six, but the bill never reached the governor’s desk.

Rita’s book, now available on Amazon, describes the efforts to continue Gavin’s legacy.

As the prologue sounds, the book is not about grief. It is about a path to healing. Something Rita hopes to bring to other families navigating in similar pain.

“Intentionally, forgiveness has also become a part of our lives. It will not change what happened, but it can change what we hope will be Gavin’s legacy.”

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