Sep 2, 2011

I Saw a Cyclist Get Hit By a Car

I was crossing a major intersection and noticed a cyclist heading the wrong way into traffic. Before reaching the oncoming cars, he was hit by someone pulling out of parking lot.

He immediately fell to the ground and under the front of the car; his bicycle thrown to the side as if it had dodged the impact purposely.

The driver of the car and several other people including me approached the cyclist down on our hands and knees while another driver circulated the traffic around the scene.

The cyclist was in his late sixties though in good shape. His first reaction was to stand up quickly holding his left hip. He told everyone he was fine and went to get his bike off the street. As soon as he reached the grass on the side, he collapsed.

People do that when they are injured and in shock - their adrenaline fools them into thinking they are untouched, invincible but then the pain weighs in (milli seconds later)it's apparently clear that they are not alright.

As he lay on the grass, the driver who hit him was on his phone speaking to the 911 operator. I leaned over the cyclist and asked where it hurt. He motioned to his hip and started to rock his body back and forth as if that would remedy the situation. I held his hand and told him he would be alright.

I am not a doctor but I am a WFR (wilderness first responder). My training is meant to stabilize victims who are injured in remote areas and are hours/days from medical treatment facilities. This was not the case but I wanted to offer my support in any way I could.

The ambulance came and scooped the cyclist up and he was gone. The driver spoke with police and was asked to follow the ambulance to the hospital. I felt bad for him because he hadn't done anything wrong and it would have been near impossible for him to not hit the cyclist.

I felt bad for the cyclist because he was in pain and he wasn't young enough to mend quickly or perhaps at all. I thought about his family and how worried they would be and how they would say to him, "We've told you a million times, it's too dangerous for you to be cycling at your age especially in the city." I was thinking about how humiliating that would be for the man who just wanted to stay in shape and enjoy a beautiful day on his bike without anyone telling him he shouldn't.

It took seconds to happen. It took seconds to change the day of the driver who had just finished teaching a class at a nearby University and was on his way to pick up his son at preschool. What would he tell his son? Even though it was not his fault he felt bad and guilty and he would relive the moment again and again when he tried to sleep that night.

The cyclist would have to undergo hip surgery and be dependent upon his family to care for him during the convalescent period. He would be bedridden and need help going to the bathroom, dressing, eating, etc. His quality of life would be greatly effected.

His children who are already busy caring for their own children with barely any time for themselves would have to pitch in and help their mother who is herself dealing with health issues.

There could be complications during the hip surgery and that would weigh on the family even more.

All of this in seconds. When something of this sort occurs there is only the "now" and the "next". What is for certain is that from the moment the front of that car hit the cyclist a domino effect started in motion and there was no stopping the pieces from falling forward flat on their faces.

All it takes is seconds to change your entire life and those of the ones you love.

Nurture those seconds, be aware of your surroundings and never think it won't happen to you because it does and it will and there is no rewind button.

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