A former South Bay high school football star lost his left leg in an accident Saturday night when his motorcycle collided with a taxi near the intersection of Diamond Street and Pacific Coast Highway in Redondo Beach. His family is raising funds for a prosthetic.
According to police, Amir "Nick" Ekbatani, 25, who played football for both South Torrance High School and UCLA, was traveling northbound on Pacific Coast Highway at 10:34 p.m. when he collided with a passenger van taxi going southbound. The accident is still being investigated, but Sgt. Jeff Mendence said it appeared the taxi was attempting a left turn to go eastbound on Diamond Street.
Mendence said the motorcycle hit the taxi near the front of the driver's side, propelling Ekbatani into the air before he landed on the pavement near Starbucks. He said it appeared Ekbatani was wearing a helmet that was dislodged by the force of the collision.
"He sustained significant life-threatening injuries and was immediately transported to Harbor UCLA Medical Center," Mendence said.
Ekbatani's parents, Andy and Tracy Ekbatani, said their son lost his wallet in the accident so police were not able to contact them until Sunday around 5 p.m. after Nick awoke from surgery and asked doctors to call his father.
"They told us he originally had a 2-percent chance of living," Tracy Ekbatani said. "When they picked him up right after the accident, they thought he was dead."
Ekbatani's mother said her son initially underwent 13 hours of surgery that included the amputation of his left leg below the knee. She said he had been in and out of consciousness until Monday night, when they told him about the loss of his leg.
According to a website established to raise money for a prosthetic, Ekbatani reacted to the amputation by saying, "I lost my leg. Everything happens for a reason." Information posted on the website stated that Ekbatani had some head trauma but was "healing fast" and needed another surgery to his injured leg.
As of Tuesday morning, the website - www.gofundme.com/venb8 - had registered more than $20,000 in donations toward a goal of $50,000.
According to his biography on the UCLA athletics website, Ekbatani was a star offensive tackle and defensive end at South Torrance, where he graduated from in 2005. He played for L.A. Harbor College before attending UCLA, where he was the only offensive lineman to start all 12 games in the 2008 season. He graduated from UCLA in 2010 and ended his playing career after a tryout with the St. Louis Rams.
Ekbatani's father, Andy, said his son is enjoying his current job as a football coordinator for ESPN scouting high school prospects.
"It is his dream job," Andy Ekbatani said. "He is such a great kid."
Ekbatani lives with his parents in Torrance, his father said.