We interrupt the regularly scheduled programming to bring you this public service announcement. “If you are going to risk your life on a motorcycle (especially in the Peoria County area), please at least wear a helmet at a minimum and definitely consider protective clothing!!!” I’m probably not the model template for safety awareness, but some things seem too logical not to do. Take for example when snowboarding. I swallowed my pride long ago and always wear a helmet and wrist guards. Why? Because I know what happens when you don’t both firsthand and through the powers of observation. I don’t ride a motorcycle so I do not have firsthand knowledge of what happens if you don’t bother to don the dome but thanks to an event this morning I can attest through the powers of observation that they do indeed save lives. This morning’s event will be with Linda and I for a very very long time.
Hit the jump if you want to read details about an accident we witnessed this morning
To be honest, the day started out fairly decent. We had decided to get a little birding in after a quick stop so Linda could have some blood drawn for a checkup. That ended up taking a little bit longer than expected but we were still able to make our way down to Bartonville to get some breakfast on our way to Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge down in Havana IL. After the quick stop we drove to Route 24 and made our way through Kingston Mines Village. Next stop was the Banner Marsh area near Banner. I thought about stopping there and seeing what the marsh had to offer but opted to catch that on the way back. I really wanted to get to Havana to see what kind of migratory birds they might have for us. It is at that point in time when the day turned tragic. A silver van ahead of us began to slow in order to make a left hand turn into the main Banner Marsh entrance. Linda in kind matched the deceleration which maintained about a 3 truck length distance between us and the turning car. All of a sudden I notice a black helmet going by us on the left – actually accelerating which set the spider senses off. Note, Route 24 is an extremely busy road. Once around us we had full vision of the cyclist and the silver van that was now close to being stopped. I can’t speak for what Linda was formulating at the time, but it was certain to me that something was not adding up. Time apparently slowed a bit because my first instinct was she was going to get broadsided by that van if it started the turn before the cyclist got around the two of us. This scenario quickly altered to another conclusion when the rider swerved into our lane directly in front of us. “He’s not stopping in ti…” made it through my lips at the exact moment Linda made the same conclusion. That is when the motorcyclist applied the brakes hard laying down major rubber. The bike started to wobble and then jerked violently to the right – 90 degrees to the back of the now stopped van – causing the rider to slam into the back window on the left side – it seemed like the rider was launched a bit into the air so the body hit the window full on allowing the bike to broadside a little bit lower. I have no idea how Linda got the truck stopped and on the side of the road so fast because I was stunned. This is the first time I’ve been this close to such a serious crash. We jumped out of the truck and made our way over to the rider now laying on the ground – barely moving. We were assuming the worst based on the horrific impact. Linda later mentioned she was hoping she didn’t have to employ our recently acquired CPR certification.
Linda knelt down and started attending to the rider – I called 911 and gave a quick synopsis. By then the rider was conscious to a degree and to my absolute surprise found out it was a woman. There were about three other women that came to help Linda trying to keep the victim down and calm. Another individual and I took up traffic duty and kept the traffic flowing through one lane while the Banner Marsh Conservation Police showed up and eventually a fire engine and ambulance – this ended up shutting down the lanes completely which caused quite the line of cars in both directions. At some point in this process they were debating bringing in Life Flight. Cooler heads prevailed and they opted for the standard ambulance. She likely had a concussion, broken leg and some nice rashes where the leather coat raised up on her side but she was alive and for the most part conscious – Linda did mention she didn’t have recollection of what happened which is understandable given the circumstances. She was alert enough to argue with the medics to NOT cut her leather coat. Not sure the details on how that played out, but they got it off her and I did see them cutting the shirt instead. They brought the board in and stabilized her head – apparently they got the helmet off as well – again, did not see how that occurred since by then I was talking to the Conservation Police Officer who was appreciative of us helping out – thanking each of us for our help. The Peoria County officer ended up taking command – he informed everyone that it had already been an eventful morning and all his guys were already on cases so he was going to take care of all the paperwork etc. and let another county officer handle the traffic – I was off the hook!
Eventually Linda, myself and four other witnessed were called over by the cop in charge to give our statements. I must say, he was rather short and to the point telling everyone to talk in turn and was also fairly short when people came an asked if they should move the bike of the road “No, cleanup will take care of that”, A lady asked “The van seems drivable, can we drive it away” – “No, I will decide if the van is drivable”. Eesh. Each of us gave our accounts – in proper turn with twenty-seven 8 x 10 colored glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explainin’ what each one was. turns out we were the only two that saw the entire accident – the other witnesses were coming from the other way and only saw her pull out (which we missed) and then dive back in only to see the bike spit out to the side.
To add to the excitement, while we were giving out statements to the cop, we looked over and the firemen were helping to walk a young man over to the side of the road. All of sudden that guy faints and drops to the ground. He was a large individual and the guy holding on to him could only help to control his fall. The cop sees our surprise, turns back to look at the guy on the ground and gave us a look of “what the hell is with this day”. An older lady behind Linda stars crying and making statements to the fact she just lost a family member, lost another family member not long ago and couldn’t deal with another one .. based on her comments about her telling the kid that he wasn’t okay to walk around, I think he was in the van that got hit. Kudos to Linda who went over to the lady and got her calmed down. Good lord, this was one for the memory banks. I have no idea what happened with the kid who dropped, because the cop started back where he left off on the witnesses and it was my turn to give the account. Eventually everything was under control and the victim off to the hospital. I overheard a lady that was helping Linda thank the Conservation Officer for saying a prayer. Intrigued I turned to Linda who explained that she was asking if someone would say a prayer and he said “of course” and gave some nice words. Neither Linda or I was aware that this was something that was typically done, but the officer acted as if it was. The other odd thing that happened at the end was the guy that was helping me came over and said thank you for helping with the traffic and gave me his name followed by the fact he was a State Trooper. Wow, he never mentioned that once this whole time, not even at the beginning when it was just a few of us there – I do remember him pointing at me and verifying that I had called 911 already.
We returned to the truck, took the opening the conservation officer provided for us and continued our journey on to Havana. Numerous people we encountered during this ordeal commented that this happens all the time on Route 24 – everyone speeds, someone is always doing something stupid. This we confirmed later in the day as we were heading back through – once again someone, in a car this time, was passing the car behind us as we were making our turn into Banner Marsh. I can’t fix stupid but the least I can do is provide another reminder that safety equipment saves lives. If you are going to ride it, please do it with protection. (motorcycles .. ride motorcycles geez there’s a comic in every crowd hehehe)