‘Wearing my helmet saved my life’

It is crazy how one person’s actions can impact another person’s financial well being, piece of mind, and happiness so greatly.
I was on my motorcycle heading home from a very relaxing yoga class. I needed to get home, change, and head to the Seville theatre to cover a jazz concert for the school paper.

I was almost home when I noticed a car about a block and a half ahead of me. It was sitting sideways in the street, half in a parking spot and the other half was in the street.

I proceeded with caution as I got closer. I couldn’t figure out what this person was doing. Were they parallel parking, flipping a U-turn, or what?

When I was about 6 or 7 car lengths behind him I gave a courtesy honk saying, “I’m coming up behind you.”

The driver was still at a dead stop half way in the road. I then shift from the center of the lane to the far left of the lane and continued forward.

As I was about to pass the individual in the car, the unthinkable happened. He put the petal to metal and attempted a U-turn right towards me and my oncoming motorcycle.

I tried to react by moving into the oncoming lane but it was to late. The front left panel of his car connected with me and my motorcycle and before I could even register what had just happened I was airborne, flying through the air as if gravity was non-existent.

I did a somersault in the air and landed on my head, the rest of my body followed. There I laid on the pavement for a minute as I tried to comprehend what had just happened.

I stood up just long enough for my legs to give out. The driver of the car ran out with a look of horror on his face.
All I could think to say was “Call 911! Get me an ambulance.”

The ambulance arrived, they loaded me onto a backboard and rushed me to Mercy Hospital in Hillcrest.

When we arrived at the trauma center they cut all my clothing off and in a blink of an eye I was completely naked. A doctor was asking me questions like “Did you lose consciousness?” and “How fast were you going when he hit you?”

At this same time I had needles being stuck into the veins in my arms, a tetanus shot in my left shoulder, and blood work being taken from my left hand.

I was having a hard time dealing with all the  needles and questions being asked at the same time.

In the next room they began a full body cat scan.

After the scan they wheeled me into my room, and transported me from the board to a bed. The bed next to mine was separated by what looked like an over sized shower curtain.

My neighbor was having an argument with the nurse over the amount of pain killers she was feeding him. It was at this point the combination of the arguing, my intense neck, lower back, and leg pain, and the gravity of what had just happened began to make me see double. Just when I thought I couldn’t take anymore the nurse injected me with a large needle full of morphine. Then all I saw was clouds.

The next thing I remember was when a police officer brought my belongings to my room. I remember seeing my helmet and thinking “That could have been my head”.

After this all I could think about was my poor motorcycle. I had just hit my first 1000 miles on the odometer and now it was likely totalled.

My mind was running with questions, “How am I going to get to school? How am I going to get anywhere!?!?.”

According to the California Highway patrol 2.1 percent of all vehicles registered in California are motorcycles, yet motorcyclists account for 9.4 percent of all traffic fatalities statewide.

“The failure of motorists to detect and recognize motorcycles in traffic is the predominating cause of motorcycle accidents. The driver of the other vehicle involved in collision with the motorcycle did not see the motorcycle before the collision, or did not see the motorcycle until too late to avoid the collision.”

Thinking back to when I was a kid and how I would take my bicycle helmet off as soon as I was out of my mothers site, I realize I am lucky. The statistics are definitely against any motorcyclist involved in a car accident, but they are even more so without your helmet. What I once thought was an inconvenience is now a blessing in my eyes.
I live to see another day.