Safe Riding

My Accident - A Survivor's Story

Written by  August 1, 2013

It was a very nice late spring day. The temperature was around 80 and a reasonable breeze. I had been riding most of the day. First went to my grandson’s birthday party then traveled about 40 miles to Lawrence KS for my niece’s graduation party.

Left the party around 5:30 and headed back home. Before I got the area of I-435 highway construction that I knew would be stop-and-go I decided to alter my route. You never consider how one decision can change your life in a major way until after the events unfold. I went farther south on I-35 and exited at 199th street. After all, I have used this boulevard many times to cross town and avoid the highway traffic.

The drive along 119th St. was uneventful all the way to Stateline Road. I turned right to head south on Stateline Road I had no way of knowing what was waiting for me in the form of an impatient driver. As I traveled south on Stateline Road I was in the left lane and I was next to a small black SUV to my right. I was went down the hill towards Pembroke Lane I was parallel to the black SUV to my right. That’s when I saw the other SUV coming at me. When I was in the position where I could see to the right all the way to the side of the street, there it was. It was coming right in my direction. The SUV driver was not looking in my direction. I knew this immediately because all I could see was the left side of the divers head. In the approximately 1 to 2 seconds I had to react I locked up the brakes on the bike. I skidded (according to the police report) around 19 feet. I decreased my speed from 38 to 30 mph at time of impact. You are typically taught to lay the bike down before an impact like this but in the brief time I had to decide I thought “If I lay the bike down the SUV could drive right over me.” In the accident interview the SUV driver told the police that “I didn’t know the motorcycle was there until it hit me.”

Just before the impact with the SUV I closed my eyes. Yes, closed my eyes. I didn’t want to see what was about to happen. When I opened my eyes again I was laying on the ground beside my bike. I had not been thrown over the handlebars, I was apparently bucked off the right side of the bike as if being thrown from a horse and I landed on the pavement squarely on my backside. This was apparent after the injuries were determined in the trauma center at the hospital.

As I lie on the ground I opened my eyes and the bike was right beside me. As I begin the hear people talking I hear a man’s voice is saying “Keep his head still.” “Don’t let him move.” This civilian whoever he was knew his stuff. Big thanks to him whoever he is. Then in what seemed like a few seconds (probably longer) I have a swarm of firefighters around me. They are asking me questions.

“Do you know what day it is?” “Do you know where you are?” “What is your name?” etc. All simple enough under normal circumstances but after an accident very important to determine if you have had any immediate head trauma. The only disappointment from the entire on-scene series of events was that the ambulance did not run the lights and siren to get me to the hospital. Oh well.

The Emergency/Trauma center at Overland Park Regional Medical Center also did their jobs very well. My trauma nurse was always talking with me and was even cracking jokes which helped me stay calm. Very hard to laugh when you have injured ribs.

The final assessment of my injuries was as follows: Multiple fractures of the Pelvis & Sacrum, Right Radius fracture (surgically repaired with a metal plate), a Right Ulna dislocation. Four fractured ribs on right side of chest (4-7). A left Ulna fracture near the elbow. Badly bruised left ankle and various bruised tissues. One angled cut across the bridge on the nose. The first reminder I see every morning of what I’ve been through.

After spending a week in OPRMC and moving on to the rehab center I developed a blood clot in my left leg on Memorial Day. I had to be taken back to OPRMC for surgery to stop the clot from moving to my heart & lungs. I spent 7 days in ICU while they started thinning down my blood. I will be on blood thinners until December, if all goes well. I was finally released from Mid America Rehabilitation hospital on June 18th. That’s one month in various hospitals because of the accident.

On June 19th the other driver had to appear in court on a Failure to Yield citation. As for me I am still rehabilitating at home.

One thing I forgot to mention. About a month before the accident I had attended the first of a two day course on Accident Scene Management that is conducted the (The second day was a schedule conflict but I will make it up). It helped me understand exactly what was happening at the scene and why it was going the way it was. The irony is not lost on me that the first accident scene I am present at is my own and I am riding alone.

I would just like to say that in spite of what has happened to me I will probably ride again as soon as I am medically cleared to do so. Always keep a sharp eye out when riding whether you are alone or in a group. We as riders need to be prepared for anything so if you can take the ASM course and an MSF rider’s course do so. Even if you have been riding for years they will both be helpful.

I want to acknowledge all those who were part of my treatment and recovery from the Leawood police & firefighters on scene to the staff of medical professionals at OPRMC & MARH. You should be proud of the jobs you do. Thanks so much!

By Randall “Sea Hawk” Hauk