Recovering from serious injuries in hospital isn’t the way Matt Rebman thought he’d be spending his 34th birthday.
The Aldergrove man was visiting friends in West Kelowna on Sunday night when, around midnight, he decided to take his dog for a walk.
Rebman and his dog, Opie, were walking along the 1300 block of Hudson Road when they were struck by a vehicle.
Rebman suffered serious injuries, while his eight-year-old dog — his best friend — died in the hit-and-run crash.
The driver fled the scene.
“It will be a birthday I’ll never forget,” Rebman told Global News during a phone interview from his bed at Kelowna General Hospital.
“I have a broken leg, broken ribs, broken back and neck and it’s really painful,” he said.
Losing Opie was a crushing loss for Rebman.
“I’m just heartbroken,” said a teary Rebman said. “She was my best friend. I did everything with her.”
Rebman said he doesn’t remember much from that night.
“All I remember is walking along the street like I always do,” he said.
“I take her in front of me and I go to pet her and I was just about to do that. And next thing I know, I’m getting loaded into the ambulance and that’s all I remember.”
Witnesses told police the vehicle involved was a blue sedan, which was located not far from the collision scene.
“A short time later, we did locate a vehicle that we believe was involved in the incident that was abandoned just at the intersection of Concord Road,” said Kelowna RCMP Cpl. Jocelyn Noseworthy.
“That vehicle has been seized as part of this investigation.”
RCMP won’t say whether they know who the vehicle belongs to or whether it was stolen.
“The details about the vehicle are part of the ongoing investigation and we’re not releasing them,” Noseworthy said.
However, RCMP are asking witnesses or those who have dashcam or video surveillance to contact West Kelowna RCMP.
They are also asking the driver to come forward.
“We would also make an appeal to the driver to do the right thing and turn yourself in,” Noseworthy said.
“Nothing is a given, but we’re fairly confident in this case that we will be able to identify who that vehicle was being driven by. So, again, whoever that was, it’s in their best interest to turn themselves in now.”
Rebman is echoing that appeal as well.
“I just want to tell the guy that hit me and killed my best friend that you just come forward and do the right thing,” he said. “Just help me out to close a chapter of my life.”
Rebman doesn’t know how long he will remain in hospital or when he will be able to return home to the Lower Mainland.