My Brother Tragedy

root - Posted on 01 January 2000

Tragic hit and run of filmmaker, Anthony Lover, threatens his ability to continue his important work

by Staff Writer

* Illin-N-Chillin Editors note
Last year filmmaker, Anthony Lover, of Liberty Inc. in New York gave the public the first film with two African American actors with developmental disabilities in leading roles, "My Brother". I had a chance to visit his studios in New York and conducted an interview about My Brother with one of the actors who had a small part in the movie and was chosen for Lover's new film "The Promise". Lover was also looking toward the sequel of "My Brother". Last week I received this shocking email.

email from Anthony Lover;
Dear friends and supporters,

Number of reversals has beset me since we last talked to each other, both personally and professionally. Marlene, my wife, had to have major spinal surgery (10 plus hours). She was hung and cut, both through the stomach and the back to accomplish a difficult but seemingly successful operation. It takes up to 9 to 12 months to fully heal to really know.

I went out to purchase food for my wife's dinner and took the opportunity to buy lunch for three of the kids at the studio who had been helping me. Returning after lunch we were on the sidewalk at 26th and Second Avenue when all of a sudden, one of the kids cried out- "Oh, my God!" I turned quickly to see what he was looking at. Everything happened so super-fast while at the same time in ultra slow motion it's hard to describe. I saw this van coming straight towards and I instinctively shoved two of the kids out of the way saving their lives. They were in front of me. I shoved them so hard, one had to be checked out of at Bellevue. A second later I received the full blow of the van's bumper crashing into my legs. I later learned the driver was speeding, struck a cargo van and careened off and was out of control.

The bumper shattered my legs and knee. The blow sent me flying in the air, my head (with my glasses on) crashing into his windshield. Luckily the destroyed lenses didn't go into my eyes. The forward motion of van or his braking then sent me flying backwards through the air onto my back with my head hitting the sidewalk. The driver jumped out of the van abandoning it (Later to find out he had no insurance as well as his complete disappearance to police).

Amazingly I never lost consciousness from being hit. I was very calm. Maybe I was in shock. I don't know, but I seemed to be in total control of my facilities. One of the kids, kneeling over me, kept putting his hand on my heart and saying- "Don't diez'. It was very surreal; I kept thinking why should I die? Why does he think I'm going to die?

An EMS ambulance with techs arrived and immediately cut the clothes off of me. I guess to look at my physical wounds. When they put me on a wooden stretcher board I felt my first shock of pain. They asked me- "From one to ten, how severe is the pain?" I remember telling him I had a high tolerance for pain and saying- "I guess it was a five."

The EMS tech laughed and that seemed strange to me. Over his protest, I pulled my self up onto my elbows and looked down and saw that my legs where busted up and my feet where in the wrong direction. It was clear visual to the seriousness of my plight and I began think what was going to happen to me.

Everything seemed surreal about the event. They took my blood pressure and it wasn't far from being very normal (130 over 80). While they were doing this I was giving instructions to one of the kids to tell my Marlene calmly that I was in an accident and not to panic her; then to get my medical records out of my computer and give it to Bellevue.
The police arrived and asked questions as the EMS techs strapped me in to take me to Bellevue's trauma center.

It was God's will or I was lucky to be alive and taken to Bellevue. It's "the place" to go if you are in a serious or in a life threatening accident. I found out later that it's a standing order for the police, firemen, the President (If he's in New York) or dignitaries that they are to be taken to Bellevue for any serious trauma.

Bellevue didn't operate on my legs for days because my bust up legs produced blood clots and they found one in my lung. The surgeons felt there would be more embolisms and if they went to my brain, it would kill me. They operated and put a net inside to catch other blood clots along with thinning my blood.

They put me on Morphine for the pain. I suffered severe physical side effects from the Morphine drip, being delusional was the least of it.
When I could talk to my surgeons (I had eight of them) I said- "Take me off Morphine, I'd rather deal with the pain then be on it." They did, but the withdrawal with its side effects took five days before it dissipated.

I have been in the hospital and rehab since March 4th having survived death a number of times. Been in my apartment for a little over a week. I just started emotionally being able to e-mail people who probably didn�t know what took place (although a number saw it on the news). I'm still a long way from walking and being normal again, if ever. I move around in a wheelchair with pain. I have been very depressed about my physical condition and the financial circumstances I find myself in now. I most likely am facing the loss of Liberty and being forced to sell the building under duress. My doing that, dashes the dream of making change (over seven years of work) creating Liberty product (like "My Brother") and to be "a place" for young people to be given the opportunity to reach and change perceptions and forge new understandings. I fight the depression with trying to be positive and to look to the future with new eyes.

Leroy, I hope you and your family are well. I look forward to hearing and seeing you again.

Love always

240 East 27th Street
Apt 4J
New York City, NY 10016
Cell: 1-917-403-1650


I finally got past much of my depressed state to work on the rewrite of "The Promise" screenplay (which I think I told you about). I think it's going well (I'm a little past half way now). A few months before the accident I met with a financier/producer person for a company that produces and distributes feature films and TV shows (they have a deal with Time Warner). He really liked the extended treatment (60 pages) and is awaiting the script rewrite for us to have another meeting. Among other elements, I down played much of the Iraq war, focusing on the main characters and the battle as just the catalyst to extracting the promise. It seems to be working well.


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