GORDON VANDERBURG was the type of guy who'd "give you the shirt off his back in February on the East Coast," his brother, Derrick McLaughlin, said recently.
"He was selfless; he lived to help his family," McLaughlin told the Daily News. "I wish everyone in the world acted like him."
VanDerburg was killed Oct. 2, two weeks before his 56th birthday. He was run down as he rode a bike at the intersection of B and Ontario streets in Kensington, hit by a female driver, 53, who tried to flee the scene, police said.
She didn't get far: An unidentified good Samaritan followed her, blocked her path and snatched her keys, according to police sources.
"Words can't express how happy I am with what [the good Samaritan] did," McLaughlin said. "That person could've done anything that night; they didn't have to chase down that woman."
As of last night, the driver who struck VanDerburg hadn't been charged. Sources said police have finished their probe and turned it over to the District Attorney's office for review.
As the case develops, the cycling community is banding together to honor VanDerburg with a memorial ride held in his honor this morning in Center City.
"We don't want to make Gordon into a martyr; we just want to remember him, recognize his family and recognize that his was a completely unnecessary death," said Travis Southard, an organizer for Philadelphia Memorial Bicycle Rides, the group sponsoring the event.
Today's ride is the first in what Southard hopes will be a series of similar memorials. He and his fellow cyclists generated the idea in June after Adelso Matos-Garcia, 17, was killed while riding his bike in Hunting Park.
"We felt he might be forgotten if we waited to honor him until the next Ride of Silence," Southard said, referring to the annual event for cyclists injured or killed by motorists, typically held in March.
"So we decided that if we were going to honor anyone who was killed while riding, we wanted to do it as soon as it was reasonable."
Southard and his fellow cyclists will meet this morning at 10 a.m. in Rittenhouse Square, then take a winding path through Center City, ending at City Hall.
McLaughlin plans to be there. He wants the world to know about his brother.
His brother, the former Navy welder, who spent months at a time on a submarine. His brother, who cared for their mother, Rosetta, cooking, cleaning and paying her bills until she moved into a nursing home last month.
His brother, a fiercely independent man who didn't let the traumatic brain injury that robbed him of his hearing slow him down.
Two years ago, VanDerburg's skull was fractured during a mugging near his home in Kensington. He was in a coma for weeks, his brother said, and when he woke up, he was deaf.
But he was pretty good at reading lips, McLaughlin said, and when he couldn't, he'd pass notes back and forth to his family.
McLaughlin still has the notebook he used during their last conversation on his last night alive.
They had spent the whole day together, a day of laughter, reminiscence.
When the sun set, VanDerburg said he wanted to go home, and would be fine getting to the bus stop himself. His last act was to leave some cash for his mother.
"He stood up, said 'Give this to Mom; I'm leaving,' and that was it," McLaughlin said. Not long after, a police officer banged on his front door.
Even now, weeks later, after a "beautiful" funeral for VanDerburg that reunited their whole family, McLaughlin is still hurting.
"This woman ran him down in the street like a dog," he said. "She has family members, too; you just can't do that to somebody."
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