“How I spent St. Patricks Day 2010” or “The Death of my 1978 Kawasaki 650 SR”

The day started off like any other it was beautiful outside and I’d been itching to ride my motorcycle. Luckily I wore my green and had St Paddy looking out for me with a bit o’ that old Irish luck.

After a great ride in to work that morning it was beautiful outside and I was looking forward to running a bunch of errands at lunch. I was just heading back to work from home down First towards Keowee Street. There was a bit of oncoming traffic, a green light and I had the right of way through the intersection. As I approached the intersection I noticed there was an oncoming car, a silver Volkswagon Jetta that began to turn then hesitated and stopped, as if he saw me, I slowed just a bit before entering the intersection and the car stayed where it was. But as quickly as it all happened, I was shocked to see the driver of the oncoming car begin to turn to the left just 6-8 feet in front of me. There was a car to the left of the Jetta so I didn’t have anywhere else to go but straight into the turning car at about 35 mph— time really did seem to slow down at least enough for me to quickly visualize hitting the car. The front wheel of my bike hit his right front fender, as he turned in front of me. I flew over the handlebars of the bike into the windshield and over the car’s roof—I tried to draw up into a ball and landing on the other side of the accident. My immediate thought, was that somehow I had made it through what had just happened unharmed. Unbelievable! It was about right then that all the pain hit me like a tidal wave. I sat down in the back of a car and knew immediately that I’d been hurt pretty badly.

From my point of view the scene turned pretty crazy immediately. There were people trying to talk to me, asking me if I was ok, others saying they’d seen the accident and would be happy to act as witnesses. The police and squad EMT’s hit the scene, they got me stabilized onto a backboard and neck braced, they asked a lot of questions and got me ready to transport me to Miami Valley Hospital via what seemed like, at the time, the bumpiest ambulance in the whole world. Every bump in the road, every crack we went over seemed to be tied directly to the overpowering pain I was feeling. The guys in the ambulance joked that the driver really wasn’t trying to hit every bump. They did their best to calm me down and prep me for the trauma center at Miami Valley and at least got me a small dose of pain meds to help.

It was all very surreal, being unloaded from the ambulance, watching the hospital lights go by overhead as I was wheeled into the trauma center, hearing people rushing around talking about my accident and springing into action to take care of me. Immediately the 6-8 person trauma team was working on me from head to toe, asking questions testing for pain and looking everywhere to see what damages I had sustained. At one point I could feel being taken off the backboard, receiving an IV in my left hand while someone else worked to cut off my jeans, underwear and shirt and someone else began checking my neck, back and pelvis for damage. I was in more pain than I’d ever felt before. Every movement burned with a deep penetrating pain that seemed to last forever. Laying there it was becoming harder and harder to breath which was very scary. The Morphine they administered into my IV was a ways from it’s full effect but immediately I could feel it begin to numb the pain or at least gloss over some of it but the worst of the pain remained breathtaking and constant. After CT and MRI scans and a full complement of xrays I was taken upstairs and checked into a hospital room for three days. My Morphine IV was switched out to a PCA control full of Dilaudid, which was very strong and went a long way towards numbing the pain even more than the Morphine had. I don’t know what PCA stands for but its a hand held button for self-administering pain medicine. When the green light comes on your free to administer the drugs, in my case once about every 10 minutes or so.

Later that evening the Trauma Doctor came into my room to talk to us. She said that after reviewing all my tests, scans and xrays I was very lucky that I ended up with no other injuries than the three broken ribs at the back near my left shoulder blades, three smaller fractures on the lower ribs on my left side, heavy lung bruising, a puncture or hole in my left lung and a handful of darkening bruises on my legs, shoulders and hands. At the time I felt anything but lucky but in retrospect had I not been wearing a helmet or had I hit the car differently or been going faster I could have been much worse off. She went on to say that full recovery would take between six to eight weeks because there is really no good way to care for broken ribs other than to let them heal naturally.

A week later and the pain still remains pretty constant, although not as bad, I’ve gone through my prescriptions of pain medications and am still off work, at least until my followup appointment April 1st, at my doctors when i hope to be cleared to go back to work on some level. I’d like to take the opportunity to thank my close family, friends who sat with me and visited at the hospital and checked up on me and helped me to get through this difficult time. You all know who you are without your support I’m sure my spirits would be much lower.

The accident was determined to be the fault of the other driver who did have insurance so at least initially it appears that things will run their course with medial and property damages. I’ve already been contacted and told that their appraisers have “totaled out” my bike—which was what I expected but still it was a good bike and I will be sad to not have it anymore. I did stop out to the towing company who picked it up after the accident to see the bike. Here are some pictures of the damage. All-in-all it held up much better than I had anticipated they really built stuff well back in 1978. At first glance it really doesn’t appear to be too bad, but once you really look at it you can see a lot of structural or frame damage and well as everything on the front forks is pretty much wasted.

Click on the photo above or follow this link to the Flickr sideshow of all the images of my poor bike.

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3 thoughts on ““How I spent St. Patricks Day 2010” or “The Death of my 1978 Kawasaki 650 SR”

  1. That’s a scary story, Rob. You’re a strong boy – you’ve taken some good beatings in your day, but always bounce back. Cheers to bouncin’ back once again!

    …and 3 cheers for your helmet, bro! Your sexy body is obviously tough as nails, but it’s that goofy brain of yours that we like best.

  2. … what’s with the Rob Anspach’s of the world? Won’t we ever learn? Did the same thing to my cycle back in 1992- almost looked like yours- mine was a 79 Honda Hawk. We’re a tough and stubborn lot… You’ll be fine!

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