One year ago today, on July 24th 2007, I was hit from behind while riding home from work at ~3:30 PM on Forest lane, under the DART light rail. I thought I was doing everything right. I was in the far right lane, controlling the lane, keeping my line. Traffic was light, and it was a bright sunny day. I was wearing a safety vest and had a rear view mirror and no earphones. I saw the driver at least 1/4 mile back, along with one other vehicle in another lane. I was rolling about 24MPH; the speed limit is 35MPH. The next thing I knew I was looking up after hearing a large boom, and crash, and thinking something isn't right? My head hit something real hard and I then remember tumbling down the road, rolling onto my back with extreme pain in my left ankle, right knee and someone running up to me yelling "don't move." I then lay back down flat and was being told by a Care flight paramedic that I was just hit by a car and not to move.
As the medic took care of me he told me he couldn't believe what he just saw, a white Ford Escort had hit me from behind, no breaks, and no swerving, nothing. He said he and his partner felt as though they had jinxed me; they said they saw me almost 1/2 mile away, my vest was bright, and I was following all the road rules. They said they wished other cyclists were dressed like that. They thought if more did, they would have less work. Then they saw the car hit me, flip me up on his hood, and then toss me down the road. They literally pulled up to me as I rolled to a stop to aid me. They called Dallas' finest as they already had a patient in their wagon. After an initial assessment, a neck brace was applied and I was put on a back board. I called my wife while lying in the road and told her I was going to the hospital, but didn't know where. I told her I thought I would be ok, but wasn't sure. I then called my kids and told them the same thing, and also told them I thought our trip to Schlitterbahn the next day was cancelled. After being loaded in the wagon, making sure my bike was in, and letting them grab my hamburger looking arm to put in an IV, we rolled to Baylor Hospital. Along the way I called 2 fellow commuters, and my wife again.
At the hospital I was CT scanned, x-rayed, had initial wound clearing and debridement, pain killer applied, and had basically a crappy 5 hours of torture. I had a boot on my left ankle and I was told it was broken in 2 places and had been severely dislocated. They said my right knee most likely had at least one ligament tear, and I had 3rd degree burns to all 4 limbs, a hole in my right knee to the bone, a concussion, and abrasions to my head, back, and shoulder. But I could go home. They plopped me in a wheelchair, told my wife to bring my bike and sent me out the door. I called Dave to come help load me and my bike into the car, and went home. After 2 weeks in a wheel chair, I was told my right knee was just severally sprained, but my left ankle with two breaks, and ligament separations would be a long time in healing. I spent 2 weeks in the chair, 4 weeks on crutches, and 2 more with a cane. I had 10 weeks in rehab, 12 weeks of wound care, including 2 at home and 3x a week at the hospital where they took tweezers, needles, and scissors to my wounds to clean them. I had to get my 14 year-old daughter to help me shower and change my bandages; my wife to do that and more including listen to me whine and complain.
The police report told me I was hit by a 74 year old stoke victim (in Feb of 2007), who had "had a couple of beers" that day, and that he claimed he never saw me. I later found out he had had 3 other injury accidents in less than 4 weeks. I also found out the DPD never did any sort of sobriety test, no breathalyzer, and no blood test on the man. They did take his license, and per state law submitted him to the board of medical review - who took his license permanently. Our Insurance (we had the same carrier) took care of everything.... eventually, but my heath care insurance subrogated and got back much of the 'settlement." It took until December to see any money, as you get nothing until you get everything?
I was off work for 6 weeks, then did 2 weeks of ½ days, at 8 weeks I did my 1st commute after the accident and had a great group from my home site ride home with me, and have been hard at it every since. The pictures are still on my web site, I still have a slight limp on my ankle, swelling and stiffness every day. Some of the wounds have bad scars, and I think about that day every day I commute, but I won't stop,
The moral, be careful out there whether driving, commuting, or just enjoying the day. Wear your helmet when riding, make sure your insurance is paid up, and that you have enough to take care of you. But Most of All - tell your family you love them, and go on with your day.
Gross photos are here if you want to see them