A Sobering Reminder (long)…

3 08 2009

I’m now in Indianapolis visiting the in-laws.  Every year there’s a family reunion down here, but that’s a different post for a different day.  Anyway, yesterday, after returning from the reunion, I decided to head out to one of the major big boxes to pick up some supplies for an upcoming ride to North Carolina I’m making.  Was dressed in a polo shirt and shorts, but did put on my helmet.

As I was heading out to the parking lot, I heard what sounded like a cycle revving it’s engine, then the sound of brakes squealing.  Nothing major, in fact I hardly noticed the noise as I was going about getting my cycle started and getting on the bike.

I then headed out the exit of the little mall area I was in and saw what caused the noise:  A biker was down in the intersection.  There was a green Dodge “K car” sitting in the middle of the intersection like it had stopped while trying to turn into the parking lot I was coming out of, and the guy’s very nice black chopper was down on the ground.

I then looked to my left to see the biker just as he was laying down on the grass at the corner to my immediate left.  He did not look good and sort of slumped to the ground, lying on his back.

I then did a bit of a U-turn and parked my bike in front of where his feet were – they were about a foot into the roadway.  Got off and went to the biker.  By this time there were a couple others converging, including a guy in a pickup that had been waiting to turn right into the parking lot that had the look of a rider.

We both then talked to the rider to get his name – “John” – and tell him help was on the way.  I had pulled my cell phone out, but someone was already calling and you could hear the sirens off to the north nearly immediately (nice quick response by the Greenwood, Indiana police and fire, by the way – kudos).

John was messed up pretty bad.  He looked like he’d might have hit his head on the pavement.  A slight welt was forming on the right side of his head and he looked like he  might have broken his nose.  There was a good bit of blood around his head – not sure, but it looked like it had all come from his nose and spread when he’d lied down.  He was coherent, but was moaning and in obvious pain.  But he didn’t black out, so it seemed to me he hadn’t hit his head too hard, maybe he’d just banged his nose.

He was moving a bit and had obviously got himself up from the ground.   He was reaching to his middle torso and moaning.  When he lifted his right arm up, he definitely was experiencing some major pain (we told him to like still – which he did).  But I’m not sure if he was reaching up because his body hurt – or because of pain in his arm.

But was got me was the full and deep road rash he had on his arm.  From the top of his shoulder down to the bottom of his forearm.  Really bad stuff – with a few areas scrapped/ripped down to the tissue and bleeding pretty badly.  His knuckles on his right hand were pretty bad off too.  Very rough looking.  Also had a bit of rash on the right side of his right leg by his knee – but nothing at all like his arm.

A few people were tending to John by this time.  At this point, someone had walked over the cycle to where we were.  It was not too bad.  Had a flattened dent and the paint scraped off on the right side and the grip on the right side of the handlebar was ripped up.  Also had a bit of scraping on the pipes. Otherwise, looked OK.  Real shame.  S&S engine, sport-style chopper, chrome wheels – real nice bike.

The ambulance and police then arrived and took over.  Typical treatment.  Collar, back board and then loaded and off to the hospital in about 5 minutes.

So what was the reminder?  Well, the guy was wearing a muscle shirt, shorts and tennis shoes.  From where the green Dodge and the bike were, and given John’s injuries, it was clear to me what happened:   The rider was coming through the intersection and the Dodge didn’t see him and began to turn left.  The rider tried to swerve to the right and slid the bike on its right side.  The car and the bike did not hit – it seemed clear that he had avoided the car, but in doing so had slid out and down onto the pavement.

I guess he was lucky in that he didn’t look to have hurt his head too bad.  He was conscious and lucid, and really seemed the only major injury he had was to his arm.  I don’t know all the treatment regimen, but skin grafts seem to be not out of the question. It was ugly and nasty looking.  Had to hurt… a lot…

But anyway, this was one of those accidents where if the guy was wearing protective gear he would have gotten up and walked away.  Full face helmet and an armored jacket, and the guy at worst had a bit of a bump on the side of his knee and is bitching about being sore for a couple days and worried about repairing his bike.  Heck, if he’s wearing jeans, he may not have any injuries at all – other than the pain of seeing damage to his formerly very sweet chopper.

On realizing this, I looked down at my apparel.  I had jumped on the cycle in shorts and a short sleeve shirt myself.  My ride to the store was only a couple miles, but I’d probably gone through 5-6 intersections where some brain dead cager (that’s a car driver for the non-biker readers) could have turned out in front of me as had happened to John.  I could have been the guy that was set to go through months and months of procedures and pain dealing with the road rash.

I felt pretty stupid at this point and have committed myself to making sure I put on my jacket and helmet throughout my upcoming trip – which will include some very challenging roads in the mountains of North Carolina.  I must admit I’m a bit shaken by this – but I guess thankful for the reminder.

Oh, there was a second reminder: While one of the cops asked me if I had seen what had happened, I told him that I had heard the noise and rode up on the accident after it happened.  I mentioned the green Dodge in the intersection and heard others relaying the same version of the accident I’d already built in my mind from seeing the injuries and damage – but I really didn’t have anything to add.

The cop then said “what green Dodge?”  Sure enough, the green Dodge I and others had seen was gone and no one that was at the scene of the accident tending to John had any idea where it had gone.  The driver had to have known he/she had caused an accident, as the cycle had to have swerved right in front of the car and slid out just as it passed the car.  Given the time, while I can’t say for sure, I doubt the driver ever got out of the car.  They knew they had caused the accident as they were sitting stopped in the roadway, watched others tend to the rider they caused crash, and then drove away.  The reminder: Some people really suck.

So, I’ve learned too things: Wear my gear when riding and some people really suck.  😦

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