Motorcycle Crash Survivors Share Their Experiences
- Lifesaver: A year after motorcycle crash, Jim Lumley still thanks his helmet - a Northern Express Apr. 29, 2013, article wherein Jim explains he is glad he was wearing his helmet at the time he was involved in a low-speed crash even though the law in Michigan had changed the year before to make wearing a helmet optional
The low-speed crash turned out to be high-stakes for Lumley, who suffered a serious injury to his knee.
He also believes he owes his life to the helmet that cracked when it hit the windshield. It was a high-end, $350 helmet, with an air cushion that inflated to further protect his head. The helmet was destroyed in the crash.
“Literally, I could have legally been riding without a helmet, but I chose to wear a helmet,” he said.
- Jimmy Hunter Is Glad He Wore a Quality Motorcycle Helmet - a Muskegon Chronicle article describes Jimmy's recovery following his motorcycle crash
- Jason McVicar Tells about Surviving His Motorcycle Crash - video report of McVicar's experiences at the Bonneville Salt Flats and how he crashed at over 200 MPH and survived, which he attributes to his motorcycle helmet
- Mark Lowry Tells about His Motorcycle Crash - video
- Below are three first-person reports about gear and crashes posted at RideApart
Motorist Violates Motorcyclist's Right of Way
Helmet saves David's son after car stops and then pulls into his son's path
My son had just moved to Des Moines from our home in Pella, Iowa. On May 19, 2004, at 6:14 P M, I was driving my pickup, loaded with my son’s belongings, while he was following about one city block behind me on his bright yellow Yamaha motorcycle. As I drove, I would periodically look back to see my son. I was traveling at 60 MPH, so I know how fast my son was going. We were on Highway 163 when a female driver pulled out in front of him. My son's motorcycle struck the back of her vehicle, causing it and my son to tumble down the highway at 60 MPH.
This is what happened. As we approached the Prairie City exit, I saw a vehicle with a young female driver stop for the stop sign. I had traveled about one-half mile further when I looked in my rearview mirror for my son, but I didn't see him. I continued a little further when I met a volunteer fireman driving by with his blue lights on. At this point, I still could not see my son and I knew something was wrong, so I turned around to look for him.
As I approached the Prairie City exit, I saw the emergency lights of the ambulance, rescue, and fire trucks around this intersection. I pulled up to the scene and could see my son's legs sticking out on the ground behind the ambulance. I can't tell you all the horrible thoughts that were going through my mind when I saw this. I had just had knee surgery a little over a week before, but I never felt a thing as I ran across the median to my son.
When I got to my son, the paramedics had traction on his neck and were preparing him for transport to the hospital. When I looked at my son, I could see he was looking back at me, and at that moment, I then knew he would be OK.
My son was taken to the Pella Regional Heath Center and was treated for his injuries. He had numerous X rays and examinations. Thank God the only injuries he received were severe abrasions, bruises, and minor cuts. My son stayed the night in the hospital just for observation to make sure there were no complications.
On that day, my son was wearing a full-face, DOT-approved motorcycle helmet, and leather gloves, along with blue jeans, T-shirt, and shoes. There is no doubt that God was there for my son that day, but also after examining his helmet, I knew that it had saved his life. The back of the helmet had been crushed in; and if my son hadn't been wearing it, that would have been my son's head. The gloves he was wearing had been worn through over all the knuckles. My son now knows that if he had been wearing his leather coat he would not have had the severe abrasions, bruises, and cuts.
I can't say enough about the importance of wearing helmets and all the other protective gear. I am a motorcycle rider myself for personal pleasure, and I am a motorcycle officer for the City of Pella. My hope is that by sharing my son's story, it may help save lives. Wearing a helmet is a responsible choice. —David O.
Dot-Certified Helmet Is Better Choice Than Novelty Helmet
Lon describes his experience wearing a novelty helmet
I am going to attempt to detail my experience and subsequent recovery as a result of a motorcycle crash on October 8, 2003. I can only classify the entire experience as miserable. Physically, I recovered quickly; mentally, it has taken much longer.
I am currently 49 years old. I have been riding motorcycles since I was 12 years old. I have owned and operated both “trail bikes” and “road bikes.” I have always been aware of the vulnerability and potential danger of riding motorcycles and had always rode defensively.
October 8, 2003, I was working in my home office in Milford, MI. It was particularly mild that night, and around 8:00 P.M. I decided to take a break and ride my motorcycle, a 2002 Harley-Davidson Soft Tail, into Kensington Metro Park. I live next to Kensington Park and enjoy the rural setting. I own more than one helmet, and that night I grabbed the one nearest the door. The helmet I wore was not a DOT-certified helmet and was what I consider a “novelty helmet.” I do not remember what happened; however, the reports reflect that while traveling on the rural road near Kensington Park, I somehow fell off the bike. It was determined that I was not traveling at a high rate of speed; however, I hit the ground hard enough to break my collarbone and two ribs, puncture a lung, and suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI). My nephew was following behind me; however, he was not close enough to see what caused me to lose control of the motorcycle.
I was taken to the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor that night. I do not recall being taken to the hospital or undergoing any of the tests I was given upon arrival. At one point a MRI was performed and a determination was made that my brain was swelling due to the impact. They drained fluid from my skull to accommodate the swelling using a device known as a shunt. I was in an induced coma for about three weeks. The initial prognosis was not encouraging; however, I had a speedy physical recovery. I still am affected by the brain injury.
I was warned about what I would experience as a result of the brain injury. I was not, however, prepared for the challenges that I faced as a result of the injury. I am still on medication. I am not going to detail the entire experience; however, the injury has affected me both personally and professionally. I am fortunate that I received a lot of support from close friends and my family. Without this support, my recovery would be more complicated. My employer now considers me a liability.
I am still trying to work through the expenses with the insurance company. The cost of the initial treatment and psychiatric services are in excess of $300,000.
In retrospect, there is no doubt I could have avoided the brain injury if I had worn a better helmet. I purchased the helmet because on hot days it was more comfortable to wear. I continue to ride; however, I will not risk a similar experience by not wearing proper protection.
Here is a picture of the helmet. The crack illustrates the point of impact and is where it caused the damage to my head. I hope sharing my story will help others always choose to wear proper protective equipment, especially a quality helmet.
I have also included a list of TBI symptoms sent to me by my counselor from the University of Michigan Psychiatric Clinic.
Lon: This is not intended to alarm you; however, you may be experiencing some of the symptoms below.
Common symptoms include: Anxiety, nervousness; behavioral changes: difficulty controlling urges (disinhibition), impulsiveness, inappropriate laughter, irritability; blurry or double vision (diplopia); depression; difficulty concentrating or thinking; difficulty finding words or understanding the speech of others (aphasia); difficulty swallowing (dysphagia)dizziness, lightheadedness, loss of balance; headache; incoordination of movements; difficulty walking or sitting; loss of memory; muscle stiffness and/or spasms; seizures; sleep difficulties (more or less sleep than pre-injury); slurred and/or slowed speech; tingling, numbness, pain, or other sensations; sense of spinning (vertigo); weakness in one or more limbs, facial muscles, or on an entire side of the body.
Frontal Lobe: forehead
Loss of simple movement of various body parts (paralysis); inability to plan a sequence of complex movements needed to complete multi-stepped tasks, such as making coffee (sequencing); loss of spontaneity in interacting with others; loss of flexibility in thinking; persistence of a single thought (perseveration); inability to focus on task (attending); mood changes (emotionally labile); changes in social behavior; changes in personality; difficulty with problem solving; inability to express language (Broca's aphasia).
Parietal Lobe: near the back and top of the head
Inability to attend to more than one object at a time; inability to name an object (anomia); inability to locate the words for writing (agraphia); problems with reading (alexia); difficulty rawing objects; difficulty distinguishing left from right; difficulty doing mathematics (dyscalculia); lack of awareness of certain body parts and/or surrounding space (apraxia) that leads to difficulties in self-care; inability to focus visual attention; difficulties with eye and hand coordination.
Occipital Lobes: most posterior, at the back of the head
Defects in vision (visual field cuts); difficulty with locating objects in environment; difficulty identifying colors (color agnosia); production of hallucinations; visual illusions - inaccurately seeing objects; word blindness - inability to recognize words; difficulty recognizing drawn objects; inability to recognize the movement of object (movement agnosia); difficulties with reading and writing.
Temporal Lobes: side of head above ears
Difficulty in recognizing faces (prosopagnosia); difficulty in understanding spoken words (Wernicke's aphasia); disturbance with selective attention to what you see and hear; difficulty with identification of and verbalization about objects; short-term memory loss; interference with long-term memory; increased or decreased interest in sexual behavior; inability to categorize objects (categorization). Right-lobe damage can cause persistent talking; increased aggressive behavior.
Brain Stem: deep within the brain
Decreased vital capacity in breathing, important for speech; difficulty swallowing food and water (dysphagia); difficulty with organization/perception of the environment; problems with balance and movement, dizziness and nausea (vertigo); sleeping difficulties (insomnia, sleep apnea).
Cerebellum: base of the skull Loss of ability to coordinate fine movements; loss of ability to walk; inability to reach out and grab objects; tremors; dizziness (vertigo); slurred speech (scanning speech); inability to make rapid movements.
MORE signs and symptoms: The signs and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) can be subtle. Symptoms of a TBI may not appear until days or weeks following the injury or may even be missed, as people may look fine, even though they may act or feel differently. The following are some common signs and symptoms of a TBI: headaches or neck pain that do not go away; difficulty remembering, concentrating, or making decisions; slowness in thinking, speaking, acting, or reading; getting lost or easily confused; feeling tired all of the time, having no energy or motivation; mood changes (feeling sad or angry for no reason); changes in sleep patterns (sleeping a lot more or having a hard time sleeping); light-headedness, dizziness, or loss of balance; urge to vomit (nausea); increased sensitivity to lights, sounds, or distractions; blurred vision or eyes that tire easily; loss of sense of smell or taste; ringing in the ears.
MORE signs and symptoms of TBI: Some symptoms are evident immediately, while others do not surface until several days or weeks after the injury. With mild TBI, the patient may remain conscious or may lose consciousness for a few seconds or minutes. The person may also feel dazed or not like him- or herself for several days or weeks after the initial injury.
Other symptoms include: Headache; mental confusion; lightheadedness, dizziness; double vision, blurred vision, or tired eyes; ringing in the ears; bad taste in the mouth; fatigue or lethargy, a change in sleep patterns; behavioral or mood changes; trouble with memory, concentration, attention, or thinking symptoms remain the same or get better—worsening symptoms indicate a more severe injury.
With moderate or severe TBI, the patient may show these same symptoms, but may also have loss of consciousness; personality change; a severe, persistent, or worsening headache; repeated vomiting or nausea; seizures; inability to awaken; dilation (widening) of one or both pupils; slurred speech; weakness or numbness in the extremities; loss of coordination and/or increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation; vomiting and neurological deficit (e.g., weakness in a limb) together are important indicators of prognosis, and their presence may warrant early CT scanning and neurosurgical intervention.
XXXXXXXXXXXX, MSW, LMSW
Care Manager - M-DOCC Department of Psychiatry
University of Michigan Health System
Protective Gear Saves Caryn's Life and Shortens Rehab
Motorcycle-specific gear does its job when motorist violates rider's right of way
My name is Caryn Dolores Myers, and wearing motorcycle safety gear saved my life last summer. It was June 15th, 2007, at 11:30 P.M., and I was riding my motorcycle to work. As I crested a hill, I saw a car stopped at the intersection. Little did I know that that moment in time would change my life for a while, possibly forever.
Although I had the right of way, just before I got to the bottom of the hill, the car began to pull out. I applied both brakes, but had little time. My bike impacted the driver’s door, and I went flying through the air. I hit the pavement, bounced, and ended up lying on the left side of the centerline. I tried to roll onto my back, but when I tried, pain shot through my pelvis area.
It was late, the roads were deserted, and I had not seen the driver of the car. I keep my cellphone close to my heart when I ride, and it was still there. I opened my phone and hit speed dial 4 . . . Home. My mom answered, and I yelled, “911, U.S. 31 and Fountain!” I yelled it again and again until she understood. As my mom hung up, a lady stopped. She made the initial call to 911 and then stayed and talked to me. I was so close to home that my mom made it to the scene just before the ambulance arrived to take me to the hospital.
At the emergency room, my pelvis was stabilized (it was fractured in two places), and then I was taken by Aero Med to Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids. The next day I underwent surgery. A titanium plate and five titanium screws were inserted into my pelvis to stabilize the bones so they could grow back together. I was then sentenced to three months in a wheelchair while my torn tendons and broken bones grew back together.
I spent three months sitting in that wheelchair feeling bitter and wondering, Why? It wasn’t until I started to walk again that I began to see the crash as a blessing instead of a curse. It had not been my fault. I had learned the art of relaxing, instead of running. I would get wage reimbursement for my lost work time. And it was a miracle that I was alive to be learning how to walk again at all.
I learned that the average recovery (rehabilitation) time for a victim of a motorcycle crash is one to three years (if they live). I met people along the way who had also suffered serious injuries, some of them in wheelchairs. Some of them would be in their wheelchairs for life. Brave, amazing people who helped me with my own attitude adjustment.
My riding gear did the job that it was intended to do. My pelvis was fractured in two places and there were torn tendons, but everything else was intact. Without all the proper gear, I would have lost a lot of skin and would have more than likely experienced a severe concussion (if not permanent brain injury or death). If I had survived without my gear, I could have spent years in the hospital recovering.
I’ve heard it said that there are two types of motorcyclists: those who have been in crashes, and those who will be in crashes. Consider every driver on the road as being unaware of your presence. Any driver could be the one who may suddenly, negligently, pull out in front of you. Please increase your chances of survival. Wear the appropriate riding gear every time you swing your leg over a motorcycle.
Motorcyclists Hit Deer in Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Full-face helmets save motorcyclists' lives after colliding with deer
My first awareness was of spitting into gravel inches from my face and being rather smug that there wasn’t any blood in it. I pushed myself up to my knees, noticing that one of my gloves was torn and full of blood. I pulled it off and shook my hand, trying to fling the blood away. A few yards from me, my wife wept softly, the bones of her left forearm broken and exposed. “That’s not good,” I said, to no one in particular. “That’s not good at all.”
A young man in a Michigan State Police uniform knelt in front of me. “Sir, where were you going? Where were you headed today?
I looked into his face and started grinning—I couldn’t help it. “Damned if I know,” I said. “I know I should know, but I don’t. What happened?”
He jotted something in a small, leather-covered notebook, nodded, and looked back at me. “Sir, where did you spend last night?"
I kept grinning at him. “You got me there, too (can you spell concussion?). What happened?”
“You hit a deer, sir. Medical help is on the way. “I notice that you have a concealed weapons permit in your wallet. Were you carrying a weapon today, sir?”
“Naw,” I said, chuckling at the officer. “Don’t carry it when we go up to Canada. They get all nervous up at the border, you know, and we’re going there later. I do have a 12-gauge shotgun, though, half in each saddlebag: Winchester Model 12; breaks in half real good. You want me to get it? What happened?”
The officer put his hand on my shoulder. “No. We’ll take care of it. Lie easy now. Help is coming.”
“Hey," I said, “that’s my wife there. She’s hurt bad. Let’s put her in your car and take her to the hospital!” I started to rise to my feet, but a deep burning ache began in my side, and then it got worse and didn’t go away. “Ah, Jesus!” I moaned.
The young officer pushed me down, and his voice was urgent now, more commanding. "Sir, lie still! You were in a collision with a deer, and both you and your wife are seriously injured. Ambulances are coming. You can hear them now. Hear them?”
I looked into his face and grinned again. I just couldn’t help it. “East Duluth,” I said triumphantly.
He looked perplexed. “What? What did you just say?”
“East Duluth. That’s where we were last night…motel…East Duluth. Got one right, huh? What happened?”
He smiled at me, I think, and rested his hand on my shoulder again. “Good, that’s real good. Be still now. They’re just pulling up.”
I sank down on my thighs and ankles again and looked up at the fair-weather clouds racing across the Michigan skies, listening to my wife’s gentle weeping and to the oncoming sirens.
We spent five days in Marquette General, a wonderful facility, where we received the best of care and were treated with the utmost concern.
My wife had a concussion and nearly lost her left hand, and later she lost a tooth due to the accident.
I had a concussion, four broken ribs, and a collapsed lung. I went into shock at Baraga Trauma Center (Baraga County Memorial Hospital, L’Anse, MI) and nearly bought it. That's when they transferred us both to Marquette.
Big ol' deer ya got there in Michigan!
I'm convinced that without helmets, we'd both be dead.
I'm also convinced that without a full-face helmet, I would have needed a new face!
Wearing Quality Gear Helps When Motorcyclist Collides With Deer
A Presentation by Randy Klifman to the Michigan Motorcycle Safety Committee
My name is Randy Klifman, and I AM HAPPY TO BE HERE. I have been riding motorcycles for almost 40 years. Like many motorcyclists, I was not concerned with the use of safety equipment; but a few years ago, I became involved with the Motorcycle Safety Program with Ferris State University. As the program manager and a RiderCoach, I really bought into the importance of safety equipment.
On June 15, 2009, I had an early morning motorcycle/deer accident. The crash totaled my bike and broke five ribs, my shoulder, and punctured my lung.
The ER doctors were amazed that there were only a few external injuries; but when they saw the shredded ¾ length armored coat and the gouged full-face helmet that I was wearing, they said that the safety equipment reduced my hospital stay by several weeks, if not saved my life.
I am an advocate for proper gear (especially helmets). I practice braking and swerving, and I use the SEE method (SEE: search, evaluate, and execute) every time I ride. I had been accident-free for about thirty years, but some things you just cannot prepare for (like a deer running out of the swamp twenty feet in front of you and stopping). I know that I am one of the few who has survived this type of accident.
I would like to thank this board for fighting to keep the helmet law, and I thank the State of Michigan for offering motorcycle safety training classes. The law made it mandatory, and the safety training made it common sense. I would like to say that sometimes doing the unpopular thing is the right thing.
Full-face Helmet and All the Gear Help Motorcyclist Survive Deer Crash
Tips to Prevent a Deer Crash and Ways to Protect Yourself in the Event of a Crash
My name is Jim Moore. I live in Knoxville, Tennessee, and I ride mainly in the mountains of East Tennessee and Western North Carolina, which includes the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Dragon’s Tail (U.S. 129), the Cherohala Skyway, and other scenic routes.
Just after dawn on March 29, 2014, my buddy and I were riding the Foothills Parkway (part of the National Park) from U.S. 321 to U.S. 129. It was about 40 degrees. We had encountered scattered light rain and the road was wet, but it was a beautiful day and we had good visibility, a great view of the mountains, and the road to ourselves. Almost no one else was out and about.
We were doing the speed limit of 45 mph. I was coming out of a sweeping right curve just prior to mile marker No. 5 when a deer came running up the hill to my left and ran into the left side of my front wheel. Because of the topography and the curvature of the road, my buddy saw the deer running out of the woods toward the road, but I did not. I heard him say the word “deer” over our Bluetooth Communicators and I had started to look for the deer, but only saw it immediately prior to it running into my front wheel. There was only a second or two between the warning and the impact.
I had my front brake covered, and if I hadn’t first looked for the deer but had instead immediately braked upon hearing the word “deer,” it might have missed me. It all happened fast and I had closed my eyes for the impact, but I’m pretty sure that the engine guard/ highway bars are what the deer hit, causing me to go over the handlebars. After rolling and sliding, I was on the asphalt on the left side of the road.
When I crashed, we were about eight miles from the closest cell-phone signal (not far for where I usually ride). We had not seen a vehicle since we turned onto the Foothills Parkway, about 13 miles earlier. My riding buddy didn’t want to leave me lying beside the road, and we were both worried about internal injuries. Since I could stand, we were in the process of my getting on the back of his bike in order to ride to the hospital when a family in a minivan came along and gave me a ride.
Once we got to a cell-phone-signal area, we called 9-1-1. I waited in a car for the EMTs to arrive and was talking on my cell phone. My left shoulder was hurting, but I had no external injuries other than a bit of road rash on my left hand, which had stopped bleeding by the time I met up with the ambulance. I appeared to be fine and got out of the car by myself.
The EMTs asked me where I wanted to go. I did not expect such a question. I thought they had to take me to the nearest ER, but they said they would take me to any local hospital. At that time I was 10 miles from the nearest hospital; 20 miles from the University of Tennessee (UT) Medical Center, which is a Level I Trauma Center; and 30 miles from a large hospital close to my home. I chose the hospital close to my home.
It was a long, slow, no-emergency ride that was, in a way, reassuring to me and the family members I was calling. I went into my local hospital’s emergency room, where they helped me out of my gear and put me in a bed. An hour or so later, I was sent for a CAT scan. Sometime after that, the doctor came in and announced that I had six broken ribs, a bruised lung, a broken collarbone, and a broken hand. He went on to state that the hospital didn’t handle my level of trauma and I would have to be moved to the UT Medical Center after all, about 15 miles away from my current location, which meant another ambulance ride as well as bills for both ambulance rides and ERs, not to mention the delay of several hours to receive treatment.
All in all, I spent one night in ICU, three nights in the hospital, had collarbone surgery, spent weeks on painkillers, and underwent months of ongoing physical therapy for my shoulder and collarbone. Seven weeks after the wreck, I started riding a Spyder. After 12 weeks of healing and rehab, I’m still waiting for my shoulder strength to return to the point that I’m confident it won’t affect my ability to handle two wheels; however, I’m a full-face helmet, ATGATT guy, and I am anticipating a full recovery. But I learned some things from this experience and as a result have implemented a couple additional safety measures:
1) I will never again ride without CE armor in pants and jacket, which is my usual practice; however, because of the weather, I was wearing a heated jacket under heavy leather, covered by a rain suit. Shoulder armor would have lessened the impact and probably my injury. I was wearing armored pants (Sliders) and had only one two-inch-diameter bruise on my left hip. I now ride wearing the latest Hit-Air inflating jacket.
2) The heated gloves I was wearing provided minimal protection. The left one came off, which resulted in a bit of road rash on the back of my hand. The right glove stayed on, but was torn apart. The heated gloves had no hard-knuckle protection, and I broke two bones in my right hand. I think hard-knuckle protection, which all my nonheated gloves have, would have saved me a broken hand. I’m going to put heated grips on my bikes in order to reduce my use of heated gloves.
3) I’m installing a Hornet deer whistle on my motorcycles. I’m not sure if it really works, but I’ll feel better.
4) I now carry an inReach SE, which provides emergency service and two-way satellite text communication.
5) I’ve modified my visual scan while riding in deer areas. I now spend more time scanning the trees along the roadside. In order to do this safely, I’ve slowed down.
6) If my riding partners have Bluetooth Communicators, I will plan ahead with them to use the word “deer” to indicate seeing a deer likely to run into our path and that upon hearing the word, we would immediately brake (rather than just look for deer, as I did).
7) I don’t think I’ve ever seen an article about dealing with EMTs and ambulances after a wreck, or even about what factors to consider in making the decision to call an ambulance or have a buddy ride you to the ER. On the Dragon it’s an hour ride to a hospital. Waiting for an ambulance adds another hour. At what point is it better to get into a car or the back of a pickup and just ride to the hospital? The lesson for me was that if the crash was such that an ambulance is called it’s an emergency. The EMTs have no idea what’s going on internally. Tell them to turn on the lights and sirens and go to the nearest Level I Trauma Center, which is a hospital that can provide the highest level of trauma care available.
Van driver violates Melissa’s right-of-way
Quality riding gear reduces injuries
In Columbus, Ohio, on May 19, 2015 while riding my motorcycle home from a doctor's appointment, I was involved in an accident (about two miles from my home). I was riding southbound on Cleveland Ave. The speed limit there is 45mph. When approaching the intersection at Lauralwood, I noticed a tan SUV turning and I adjusted my speed and slowed to avoid an accident. He should have waited to turn, but he didn't.
The driver of a minivan behind him, did not pause or stop before she proceeded to turn left in front of me as well. At this point, there was nothing I could do. I had no room to stop or avoid the collision. The driver of the van had no license and no insurance. The only reason I am still alive is because I wore my helmet and all of my safety gear worked to protect me. I was wearing a full-face, bright white, HJC CS-R2 model helmet with a bright pink pony tail stuck on it,
a pink and black leather jacket and a pink vest with Olypmia Gel reflector gloves (also in pink and black). I was wearing jeans and Justin Gypsy pink boots and it was their first ride. They were brand new.
I tried to contact the Columbus Police department to find out why she wasn't arrested for driving with no license and no insurance - or at least not ticketed for no insurance, but I never got any response back.
I was unconscious at the scene and transported to Riverside with a broken right wrist, cut in my leg and a serious concussion. I also had a torn ligament in my left hand, black eye, fat lip and several hematomas on my body. One of the witness reports, according to the nursing staff at the hospital, said I slid under her van.
She never got out of her van to see if I was okay (she admitted this to the police) and it is my understanding she is also not the one who called 911. I have had two surgeries, metal plate and screws in my right wrist to repair the fracture and surgery to repair the ligament in my left hand (ironically from honking at her when we collided). I just returned to work on August 3rd.
The driver of the van got $30 ticket for failure to yield, and a $100 ticket for no license. No driving classes mandated, no jail time and no ticket even for no insurance. I do not feel this is fair. Motorists turning left in front of motorcyclists are an epidemic and is something I want to try to help change. I will be maimed for the rest of my life due to this accident. I now have metal in my body because of her carelessness.
This is a letter I have written, but not sent her yet.
“Dear Minivan Driver,
I want to introduce myself to you. I am Melissa, the motorcycle rider that you hit on May 19, 2015. I am a Business Analyst, a girlfriend, a mother, a daughter, a grandmother, and a sister. My road name is Tink. The decisions you made on this day have changed me and my life, for the rest of my life.
I know that riding a motorcycle is a dangerous endeavor however; it is up to each of us to mitigate the risks involved, which I did. This is why I am still alive and the only reason you did not kill me on that day. I take motorcycle riding courses about every other year to make sure I’m up on my skills and I learn something new with each class I take. I have ridden my pearl white Honda Shadow Aero across the country and back and have used my love for riding to raise money for fallen police officers, firefighters, and cancer patients. I have ridden for domestic violence victims and raised thousands of dollars doing something that I love to help other people.
While my riding gear and safety equipment on my bike did their job to save my life and protect my body as much as can be expected, my injuries and scars will last the rest of my life. As of today, I have had surgery on my right wrist to put in a metal plate and screws, I’ve had stitches in my right leg, a serious concussion, and I will be having surgery next week on my left hand to repair a torn ligament - ironically it’s the ligament in my left thumb - the same thumb I used to blow my horn at you. So far, every day since the accident has been very painful. Things like being able to eat, brushing my hair, petting my dog - all things that cause pain. I go to physical therapy 3 times a week to try to get full use of my right hand back.
As for riding a motorcycle again, that is still very much up in the air. I get around a motorcycle and start shaking like a freaking leaf. To put this into perspective for you, there has been very little that has ever scared me about driving anything. I have driven a semi-truck in all lower 48 states and 3 providences in Canada, in all kinds of weather and in all kinds of traffic. I have ridden my motorcycle in all kinds of weather and all kinds of traffic and never have been scared of it. You took a basic part of who I am away from me. My best friend’s grandchildren call me “Aunt Tink”. The majority of my friends call me Tink.
Part of the reason I am writing to you is that I am angry. Not so much at you, but at the decisions that day, and the lack of responsibility both from you and from the law enforcement. I laid in the intersection of Cleveland Ave and Lauralwood for quite a while and you never got out to check on me. Another human’s life meant that little to you? I have heard every excuse in the book in your defense but YOU made the decision to drive that day. Driving is a privilege and it comes with great responsibility. Automobiles are death machines and you can end (or change) your own life or someone else’s life in the blink of an eye with the decisions you make behind the wheel. YOU made the decision to drive without being licensed and without insurance. You broke laws and just about cost someone their life. $130 fine is not punishment enough for what you did and how you impacted my life and the lives of my family and friends.
You left me in the middle of the road, broken, bleeding and unconscious. I am pissed that anyone would think my life is worth so little. I woke up surrounded by people I didn’t now, in a tremendous amount of pain and not being able to move at all.
After the accident, you were able to call your family and let them know what happened and that you were okay. You got to go home to your family. My family had to worry and wonder about why they couldn’t get a hold of me and why I wasn’t coming home. After several failed attempts to try to call me and text me, my boyfriend did a find my friends to find out where my phone was. That is how my family found out I was in the hospital. He didn’t know what had happened. He didn’t know if I was okay. He didn’t know why I was there.
The fear and panic he felt is something that’s also not fair. He didn’t know what to expect or what was going on, and they wouldn’t let him see me right away...and then I was taken away almost immediately for more tests."