PHOTO ESSAY: Choice & Consequence

WAKE-UP CALL: Monica Villa comforts her companion, John Verrocchi, aka "Pirate," as he recovers from serious head trauma he sustained in an apparent hit-and-run accident near the Bear Creek encampment in late July. Pirate only remembers riding his bike home. He was found after an anonymous call to police, and then airlifted from Merced to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto. The next morning, he was totally surprised to see Villa with her family at his bedside. He had been worried about how he was going to contact her. She brought him his Bible that features a leather cover with the words from Matthew 7:7 — 'Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.' This year, eight pedestrians have been killed after being hit by cars in Merced County, and 13 have been injured. (TIMES PHOTO BY JONATHAN WHITAKER)

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