Wear a helmet – save yer noggin

Sisters Jenny and Connie at Chicago's Bike the Drive, May 26, 2013

Sisters Jenny and Connie at Chicago’s Bike the Drive, May 26, 2013

Every once in a while we’re faced with a lesson we need but often forget:

Our lives can change in an instant.

That truth hit close to home last week when my 40-something niece totaled her helmet in a bike accident. In an instant, long-time rider Jennifer King rode into some uneven pavement and fell hard. Her broken bones required emergency surgery, a stainless steel plate and six screws.

Fortunately, the broken bones are in her arm and not her noggin.

“I was riding back to school. I came home for lunch and was heading back to clean off my desk and get ready for next year,” she said.

Jennifer is a 6th grade teacher at Happy Hollow Elementary School in West Lafayette, IN.

“I was going down a hill, which I’ve done a million times. There was a lot of traffic in the bikeway so I rode toward a driveway,” she said. That’s when her front wheel found a groove just wide enough for a bicycle tire.

The groove grabbed the tire and Jen went down on her left side. Her leg hit the cement and her helmet-clad head dug into a flowerbed. helmet 1

Two people from school recognized her and stayed until Jen’s husband came to take her to the ER.

It was a rough few days for this otherwise healthy mother of Nick, Lexi and Mike. Surgery, medication and the shear trauma of the accident threw her off for a good week.

Mind you, this is a veteran cyclist. Bicycling was her major mode of transportation while in the Navy and stationed in Nea Makri, Greece.

“I lived in the mountains and the (Naval) base was at the base of the mountains,” she said.

That was 24 years ago and she’s been riding ever since. I remember when she rode the 75-mile Bike to the Bay to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis when she and her family lived in Delaware.

A few days after the accident when she finally faced her helmet, she saw it was cracked, had mulch in the air vents and the Bike the Drive sticker was scraped.

I asked Jenny for the one message she would want to share.

“Accidents happen in the blink of an eye. I could not have controlled what happened but that I’m glad I had a helmet, brakes and that people stopped.

“I still believe in biking and that freedom but accidents happened … I love to bike and I know I will get back on it …

helmet 2Here’s what National Highway Traffic Safety Association has to say about helmets and brain injuries:

  • Bicycle helmets are 85- to 88- percent effective in mitigating head and brain injuries, making the use of helmets the single most effective way to reduce head injuries and fatalities resulting from bicycle crashes.
  • Despite the fact that nearly 70 percent of all fatal bicycle crashes involve head injuries, only about 20 to 25 percent of all bicyclists wear bicycle helmets.
  • Universal bicycle helmet use by children 4 to 15 would prevent 39,000 to 45,000 head injuries, and 18,000 to 55,000 scalp and face injuries annually.

Jenny is healing and we’re all grateful she’s here to share her story. She asks you to make sure your brakes work and to wear your helmet.

2 responses to “Wear a helmet – save yer noggin

  1. Kris,
    All good advice. I hope your friend heals fast.

  2. I am so grateful . Arms can heal. Hey guys and girls. No helmet no bike

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