Grieving Valley mother carries on son’s legacy with new book

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) – With writing on every page, a grieving mother turns her pain into purpose with her book, “Gavin Gone.”

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

For Rita, those numbers come from the day tragedy struck on September 16, 2018, when Rita’s son, Gavin, was killed by a speeder.

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

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

At the end of this path, 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. They had returned to the scene of the crime twice that morning two hours after killing him. to make sure there was no evidence left. I felt betrayed, I almost had a stomach ache. How can a human being do that?”

The three people involved in the crash, including the driver, have served less than three years in custody combined.

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

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

“Gavin’s Law” would have increased the minimum prison term for getaway drivers who kill someone from four to six years, but the bill never made it to the governor’s office.

Rita’s book, now available on Amazon, details the drive to continue Gavin’s legacy.

As the prologue says, the book is not about grief. This is a path to healing. Something Rita hopes to bring to other families dealing with similar pain.

“By design, forgiveness also became a part of our lives. It won’t change what happened, but it may change what we hope is Gavin’s legacy.

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