According to this recently published survey, Utah has the second best drivers in the country. Using statistics primarily from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the compiled results scored every state on the quality of their drivers.
It is apparent to me that whoever conducted that study has never driven in St. George, Utah and they never talked to MC.
Who is MC?
Just a motorcycle enthusiast, from Oregon, who on July 31, 2013 was part of a multi-state group riding through the area attending the Shark Week III motorcycle rally. He had split from the group early that morning and was heading home to attend a friends wedding ceremony. It was around 7:30 a.m., as he traveled northbound on Bluff Street through the Red Cliffs Parkway intersection. While doing so, there was a left turn yellow light and he was initially cut off by a southbound car making a left turn toward Red Hills Parkway. The first car missed MC before he was hit in the side by a second car also making a left turn on a yellow/red light. (Note: This intersection is now under construction and will have a flyover to help prevent accidents!)
Although MC was wearing full protective gear, he had head trauma and the impact left MC with significant injuries to his left leg. It’s St. George county protocol for trauma patients to be flown directly to University Medical Center in Las Vegas as a matter of course, but MC’s blood loss was so severe due to multiple open fractures, the onsite EMT decision was made to fly him to Dixie Regional Medical Center. You can read the local newspaper report HERE. Previous blog posts related to this incident is HERE.
The Sheriff who was on the accident scene (MC was lucid enough to give his cell phone to the officer and had him call) called us and we arrived at the accident within 15 minutes and prior to the life flight landing on scene. Perhaps an ambulance ride directly to Dixie Regional Medical Center should have occurred, but I won’t second guess or revisit the sequence of events. In fact, Dixie Regional Medical Center created a recovery video testimonial HERE.
There is an old biker adage that many of you have heard before. “There are those who have been down and those who are going down.” It’s often described almost as a self-fulfilling prophecy—a mental process whereby an individual subconsciously creates the belief in the inevitability of that event. The point is, I don’t buy into it and don’t think of accidents as a right of passage to be a motorcycle enthusiast. I’ve certainly dumped a dirt bike more times than I care to admit, but I never viewed it as inevitable or part of the hobby—I just made some poor choices.
Like many things in life there are inherent dangers with motorcycling. Risk is part of the package. An accident can have all sorts of negative repercussions. And any accident that involves someone you know or is a good riding buddy only amplifies the situation. From a psychological perspective it wouldn’t be unreasonable for the entire riding group to weigh the risks and rewards of riding and question why do it. But, I’ve digressed.
The EMT’s put MC on life flight and we helped clear the wreckage from the Red Cliffs Parkway intersection. The underinsured driver was cited for failure to yield to oncoming traffic and attempting to beat a red light while not paying attention to the rest of the traffic in an intersection. The male driver was in his girlfriend’s well-used Honda. Clearly the vehicle driver penalties in the state of Utah are not proportional to the suffering inflicted onto MC.
MC was in St. George’s Dixie Regional Medical Center for exactly 12 weeks and underwent 12 surgeries before being transported home to Oregon. In Oregon there were more doctors, more surgeries, more physical therapy and mountains of medical forms.
Five months after the crash, MC reached the point where a fixator was removed from his foot. And a few months later, May 2014, he underwent his 15th surgery—”de-bulking”—to remove the surplus transplanted muscle tissue from around his ankle. There’s been a lot written on his path to recovery HERE (warning – graphic images). The scope of this life-changing accident has been very challenging, but through it all MC remained mostly positive with the help of friends and family. There was also significant outreach from the motorcycle riding community especially the Shark Week III crew who deserves a big shout-out!
Today, a year later, MC is mobile and self-sufficient. For the most part, life is returning to a more normal pattern. Those of us who know him, know that the year has been one of the hardest in MC’s life. The medical decisions, the money worries and trying to smile every day and be grateful didn’t come easy. It’s unclear if MC’s best motorcycle riding days are yet to come or if the risk-reward ratio tipped somewhere along the line. Only he can answer that question. In reality, it is possible for a motorcyclist to never go down. Ask around. You’ll be surprised how many motorcyclists have never actually been in an accident. Oh sure, they’ve had scary moments, war stories even. But, most have never been down in any kind of a serious way.
The dog days of summer are upon us, and I believe all MC really needs to think about is how much body hair does a guy have to remove from your face before golfing.
This blog post is to mark the 1-year anniversary and to provide a quick shout-out to all the folks who for the last 12 months provided prayers and positive vibes. You’ve been awesome and we’re all grateful that MC is doing so well!
Photo’s taken by author and courtesy of MC. Road map courtesy of UDOT.
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