Exit 235

Mar 5, 2008 at 18:40
by Colin Alexander  

A lesson/reminder to all on how fragile a life is

NOTE: Stop reading now if you have a weak stomach and/or are sensitive about medical situations

To all of Pinkbike:

I am not the "blog type" of person, but feel everyone needs a reminder every now and then. My experiences yesterday moved me enough to write them down, and I hope it touches you.


Yesterday was a normal Colorado Tuesday, until I got a call from my cousin. He had found a motorcycle to possibly purchase, and since it was a Ducati, wanted me to look it over for him (I am an ex-Ducati tech) I took off from work early, headed down there and helped him out, went to dinner and chilled at his house for a bit before I decided to head home.

I hopped in my Jeep and started the regular hour and a half trek back to my house, taking I-25 for most of the way. There are constantly fender benders on this highway, as it is heavily traveled, and has numerous poorly marked construction zones. Everything was fine until I was 5 miles away from my exit.

While cruising down the road, I saw a flash of headlights, then they disappeared, then back again and finally a large puff of dust. I knew exactly what had happened, as I had seen some parts of it before. Air bag deployment. I checked my mirrors and slammed on my brakes and turned on the 4-ways.


Upon initial examination of the scene, I found a Blazer on its side, and it had clearly been upside down several times. I located one of the passengers walking about in a daze, had him lay down and questioned him briefly. By this time one other motorist had stopped to see what I was doing. The passenger told me he was fine, but his buddy was still in the car. I instructed the other motorist to watch over this kid, keep him warm with my blanket and call 911 on my cell.

Since it was 11 pm, I had trouble looking in the truck, so I pulled out my million candlepower spot lamp and looked through the car, smelling for potential flammables at the same time. I couldn't find anyone in the car, and started thinking the guy must be out of it, and was mistaken...until I spotted a shoe with my spot lamp. There was clearly another victim. Making passes across the median with my lamp, I located another person, set my lamp down with it aimed at him, and booked.

When I spotted him, an EMT from Laramie, WY had also stopped and ran over to me and the second person with a med kit. It the worst sight of my life. The kid, who was about 20, was bleeding severely from both ears, the top of his head and mouth, respirating blood, and was completely unresponsive to light and sound stimuli. He had a pulse, but he was beginning to have so much blood coming up his airway, that he was unable to get air in. At this point we were forced to decide to turn him to drain the blood, and risk neck injury, or leave him flat and hope for the best. He made the choice for us, as we lost his pulse. Since we had no airway gear between the two of us, I was forced to rely solely on chest compressions to try to get a pulse back. Even with my separated shoulder, I became a human CPR machine, and kept at it till we regained his pulse. This was a triumph, but at the time seemed as though it was nothing in our war against time.

Throughout chest compressions, he continually spouted plumes of blood, and made the sounds of an animal in agony. He was not conscious, but sometimes while his body choked and expelled the fluid in his lungs, his eyes would meet mine and send chills up my spine. After about a minute of having a pulse, we lost it again. For a second time, I went right to the compressions. While waiting for paramedics to show up, several others stopped and took a look at what the EMT and I were doing, and just backed away without so much as a word. I regained his pulse again, and lost it right as I could see the ambulance lights coming up the rise.

This complete stranger had me completely focused on saving his life, no matter how hard it was to look at, or as bad as my shoulder hurt, or my limbs became cold from the snow that had just begun. The paramedics huddled around the EMT and I, allowing us to keep everything going while they prepared for his extraction. We finally were given some airway gear, and got him ready for transport, but now it had become an exercise in futility. His internal bleeding had become so extreme that his entire pale white abdomen had become a bruise not much different from an impressionist painting of the night sky. The second I removed my hands from his chest and ceased compressions, we lost his pulse for the last time. His heartbeat was never again to be brought back, and I had him die in my arms. The paramedics even knew that his time had come, and only kept with the hand pump for air supply.

I had this complete stranger's blood on my clothes, extremities, and all over the ground. Since I didn't want to impede the paramedics' assistance to the initial victim I found, I tried to get one of police/state patrol officers to provide me with at least an alcohol wipe, to no avail, as they had joking around being the main thing on their minds. They had no care toward either of the accident victims, nor the EMT and I who put our own well being on the line to save another life. Finally, we dug out my first aid kit from my MTB bag and cleaned ourselves up a little and went looking at the Blazer. The first kid I found had his seat belt on, but the other did not. Had he taken the seconds it takes to use this simple safety device, his wounds may have been mild enough for me to have saved his life. Instead, he was ejected through the windshield, and ultimately, caused his own demise.

I drove myself home after giving my statement, not even having the desire to have music on. I was sick to my stomach. I had seen animals die horrible deaths before, but having a human being die in my hands, even one I had never seen before, had a profound effect on me.
I bathed myself in bleach and had the worst night of sleep in my life. I had tried everything I possibly could have done, and failed miserably.

If you've made it this far through the story, I hope I have conveyed detail to you in a sufficient manner for you to listen to the world and WEAR YOUR SEAT BELT. I would never hesitate to do what I did last night again, but I never WANT to see it happen again. For the sake of other people like me, please do us a favor and wear it.

Rant over, I don't know if it will do any good, but at least I can say I tried to prevent needless death.


Side note: I do have CPR and EMT training, if a situation like this arises and you do not know what to do, please do not try anything other than call 911, (or other emergency #'s) and try to keep the victim insulated from cold/heat and KEEP THEM CALM. NEVER move them. (ok, so if they're on a set of train tracks and there's a train coming..... there's exceptions to every rule.
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33 Comments

  • + 24
 sorry bro. that's a rough hand of cards. in the end i guess it was the victim's own choice, and you did all you could. but when it's all said and done, you aren't to blame. remember that. it's not your fault, if that young man had been saved, it would've been from you. unfortunately, that's not the turn the rollercoaster took, and there's nothing you could do about it. it's not your fault. just remember that. and i sure hope if i ever hurt myself biking or whatever, somebody like you is close by. props man. maybe, just maybe, your story here will save another's life. then in the end it's all worth it right?
  • + 0
 redrides nailed it on the head ditto to everything he said
  • + 11
 I thank you for having not only the courage to do the right thing at the time but also to share this with everyone. I have been a police officer for 15 years and am sickened that the cops who were there on that day weren't more supportive. There is no excuse that can be offered for that behavior. I am proud of you, and I know that recognition isn't why you shared this, but it is something that I feel compelled to say because unfortunately I know what you have been through. Please, please, please in the upcoming days, weeks and months take care of yourself, tell people who care about you what you are feeling. It seems cliche to hope that your post might change the habits of one person, but if it does (and I think it will)it was worth taking the time to do it. All you people out there especially you young guys read this over again and again, it is entirely too real and you need to know that. From my response you know my profile, please do not hesitate to drop me a line now or at any time in the future. Take Care.

Thank You,

James.
  • + 3
 Thank you all for the support, and yes, if I still am haunted by this in a week or two I will be going to someone.


I am glad that all of you seem upset by this, and PUB'D, thanks :-)
  • + 0
 you sir are a top bloke, if i ever hurt myself whilst traveling in the states, i hope you come to my rescue! Sounds like the thought you drive on never even crossed your mind, you just went up a notch in my book. hopefully you mentally recover as soon as possible!
  • + 1
 That's awful. Some years back a friend of mine lost control of his car in the wet, slid, and hit a tree sideways, driver side at about 60 mph. The tree just ripped through the car. My other friend (who was following in his car) found him completely mangled and disfigured, and very close to death. I dont know how he dealt with it, but I guess like all traumatic life experiences, time heals. You'll be a stronger man once you've dealt with this.
  • + 1
 Coinsidence, I think not. Not about your blog, but about this. Not to long ago I met probably the girl of my dreams. She stays over at my house often, but most times I drive her back to her house around 12 because we're still only 17. She always wears her seatbelt, always have and I never thought would ever stop. Myself on the other hand never wear one. As soon as I could drive myself that thing came off. I guess I have an influence on whats now my girlfriend. Shortly after driving her a few times around she also stop wearing hers, agreeing that it was uncomfortable. Clearly a sad mistake on my part. I know what you went through man, having gone through almost the same thing. But I also thank you. Thanks for posting that, I can't say I'll always wear my seatbelt from now on, but when I'm with my someone else you know it'll be there tight around my chest. I got the message, and I thank you for it. I posted this in your thread too, but I wanted you to see it. What you did was amazing, and although sad, its good to see you talk about it. Inspiring people, myself.
  • + 1
 f*ck. Thats one of the most courageous things Ive ever read. Its people like you that make the world a better place.

In a few months Ill be off at school for my general ed, but my end goal is to be a Paramedic. I'll have to deal with these things on a daily basis, but in the end I think that helping people is worth it. During a conversation about my career choice, a very wise man said to me, "The people you'll be helping will have just had the worst experience of their life. It'll be your job to take that experience, and do all that you can to make it better." That day, you were that person.

Thanks for being such an example.

-Paul
  • + 1
 You are a rare human staying to help him like that and also i dont know if he will ever see this but the guy who was with you should also be praised for their selflessness and i am very sorry you had to witness it and remember it wasent your fault.
  • + 1
 I'm sorry to hear about it, but I'm really glad to hear that you did everything you could to help him. How many people would have turned away, or kept driving. You have really earned my respect. Thank you for making this world a more humane place to live in, even at the extremes of situations.
  • + 1
 I just read through that and im speachless man... I just havta say im sorry for you for having to go through a tragedy like that.. But like REDRIDESRULE said I hope if or when I get hurt someone as generous to dedicate their time and efforts like you did on that tragic night will be close by... I couldnt imagine having a soul die right there in my own arms... Finally all i gotta say is Props to you for trying to bring the kid back but when its time, its time... The world needs more guys like you!!! PEACE

P.S.: People should get inspired by this to not take the little things for granted! Also that IF something happens to one of our buddays/family, That we can step up to the plate and take the proper procedures of handling a situation...
  • + 1
 Wow. I'm one of those people who are smart enough to wear a seatbelt and a helmet when biking, but now I feel the need to force whoever i'm with to wear their seat belt and to wear a helmet when riding. I used to get in the car and start driving while my passenger got their crap together and buckled up, but now my car won't go into gear until they're buckled up. Just as redridesrule said, just remember that what you did only helped them. Them dieing is in no amount your fault. Good luck getting to a point where you can live with that experiance. Something like that you will never get over. Use it to your advantage, I know you're smart enough to do so.
  • + 1
 Horrific. And sadly commonplace. Seatbelts and Helmets, it would seem to be so basic...... It will take you some time to work through all that you saw and did last night. Writing out the experience here is a very good 1st step.
  • + 0
 I'm not an amazing literary so I'm not going to even attempt to try and look like witty person.

All I have to say is props to you for being able to hold your composure and have the balls to stomach that and do something you knew was important and moral- even if the outcome wasn't positive you have demonstrated a quality that so many other people don't have; even if no one on the scene had the decency to say this way to put someone else in front of your own- especially as it was an horrific event, no one requested it, and you had a separated shoulder.

not to be a suck or to blow smoke up your ass but in my books some one as determined and unselfrightous as that is a hero to me.

I'd honestly advise seeing a grief consoler maybe not now but with in a few weeks, it'll help alot talking to some one and really letting go regardless of the fact you never knew this person; if nothing else you'll likely be able to sleep better.

It's a damn shame the people couldn't even be bother to say a simple thanks to some one who went through what you went through; if it was my son, I'd find out your number and let you know how grateful I was that a complete and random stranger tried so hard to keep my son alive.
  • + 0
 You sir are an exellent example of the people our society needs more of, this is possibly the most precarious position a human being can be in, it is truly amazing when someone like you can go so far for someone you don't even know.
  • + 0
 Oh my God that is so horrible how are you doing now?

I have so much respect for you and I would have tried to do what you did (I have basic Lifesaving First Aid under my belt) but he probably would have died sooner if i was me I would have just either passed out or started hurling. I would have never had the stomach to deal with that situation (and let me tell you I have a pretty dang tough stomach as I just injured myself severely. I now have a hole in my leg and when it happened it went right to the bone. I saw it and just freaked out but through all that I maintained consciousness, but I would have passed out or thrown up continuously if I were in your situation
  • + 0
 Insane props to you for even being there. I wouldn't be able to deal with seeing somebody die in front of me, let alone in my arms. Another thing, do not take it out on yourself because they died. You did all you could, and for that I give you a lot of respect.
  • + 0
 wow, this story really moved me, i could almost picture it in my head... but just remind yourself, its not your fault and dont blame yourself, thinks like this happen but im sure there will be less of it once you've read it. props man
  • + 0
 Thats really moving, my mind cannot possibly even come close to imagining what you went through. People like you, who help strangers in such a situation is what makes the general public feel that little bit safer when going through their daily life. If only more people would act as if you did rather than just driving past these incidents, I remember two christmas' ago when a woman fell down a flight of concrete stairs and managing to twist on the platform to fall down the next. Many people walked on assuming everyone else would help, I jumped out my friends car which was moving and rushed to her aid, unfortunately there wasnt much I could do other than phone and ambulance and reassure her but I got a phonecall later that night saying that she will recover in the next few weeks. I am really irritated when seeing people on phones or not wearing seatbelts as its not just them who are going to be affected in a crash, its the whole family. I'm sure his family would thank you so much for the help and dedication that you so kindly gave him in the last moments of his life. I can only hope that people will do the same for you if such a situation arised, I hope that you're able to recover from the traumatic experience with councelling if that need be. Take Care
  • + 0
 this is a really moving story! but even though you did not save his life, you are still a hero! it takes alot of guts to do such a thing and like you said other people just backed away, it is nice to kno that there is people out there that would try and save a persons life, that they dont even kno. So i want to thank you, and we need more people like yourself in this world
  • + 1
 omfg, i dont know what to say. thats just so horrible, i think it ruined my night. but i mean atleast you tried to help him unlike others that would have just turned there heads.
='[
  • + 0
 wow, that was really inspiring, i was struck by a car about a year ago and thought i saw the end of biking for sure but people like you came to my aid immidietly and stop any further damage to my leg, but now due to those heroic people like yourself im proudly back on my bikes and with a helmet and wearing my seat belt in a car. thank you, you reminded me and im sure us all that life is fragile and to not take it for granted and live our life to the fullest. once again, thanks sylvain
  • + 0
 Jesus Christ, Humm... You're a hero. I crashed the other day, I had my helmet on, thank god, but I scraped and bruised myself pretty bad. I got a ride to school monday and tuesday because I bruised my leg pretty badly, but today, no ride. So I biked to school, without my helmet... I couldn't find it and I was about to be late, hell it could still be on top of the mountain. I felt so vulnerable, now I know why.
  • + 1
 Major props to you. One, for doing all you could. Two, for having the courage to write it up on a site full of immature kids. This experience must be disturbing for you. Make a speedy recovery man.
  • + 1
 You might want to go for shock treatment...My mom saw a man get smashed off of the side of the road and tumble for around 20 feet.She was in serious shock and needed it.
  • + 1
 tough words, but so true, normaly im not one to bother with a seatbelt but now i will! all respect to you and as im shure everyones thinking thanks for your efforts!
  • + 2
 yeah wearing your seatbelt is right up there with wearing a bike helmet... it's stupid not to.
  • + 1
 Words really can't sum up the respect i have for you after hearing this tragedy.
  • + 0
 You are amazing. you also told your story with such eloquence. I deeply respect you.
  • + 0
 man i hope i never have to do the Amazing things you have experienceed. you my friend should feel a sence of happiness
  • + 0
 ouch dude,that would screw me up for a while
  • + 0
 Thats horrible.
  • + 0
 waist of life only 20...

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