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Coastal Voices: Lessons from son’s ordeal on motorcycle

My son Daniel was recently involved in a very serious motorcycle accident. It was “man versus Hwy. 199 and the guard rail.”

It takes only one split second on that curvy road to have the turn overtake you. Before long he was propelled headfirst into the guard rail post, his helmet flew off his head and slid down the road along with his motorcycle, but where was my son? He was evidently propelled into the air over the guard rail, flying 15 feet before hitting a tree and dropping to the ground. His buddies pulled him back to the road and called 911.

The EMT team and ER doctors at Sutter Coast were great. When I called after getting the message about the accident, they said he was “critical.” When you hear the word “critical,” as it applies to your child or anyone else you love, your brain and body seem to go on auto pilot, as mine did as I processed what I might find when I got to the hospital.

What I found was my big 6-foot-tall boy lying flat, wrapped up like a burrito with two black and purple swollen eyes looking up at me. All he could say was, “I’m sorry, Mom.”

Your children never intend to cause you any sorrow, but that’s the way life is, generation after generation.

We flew over to Redding because Sutter Coast figured he needed a neurosurgeon. I got to ride as co-pilot and enjoyed the beautiful scenery, despite the dire circumstances.

Ray, the Cal-Ore pilot, was greatly skilled at avoiding turbulence and landing us smoothly. The two flight nurses were equally skilled and professional. Everyone from beginning to end was top notch.

When we landed at Mercy Hospital in Redding, the air was warm and windy and it felt so good for Daniel to feel the outside air dance acrosss his face. After four days of MRIs, X-rays and exams, it was decided he did not need surgery and could go home with a neck and back brace.

Thanks to my husband driving our Jeep to retrieve us, and his girlfriend Brandy rendezvousing at 4:30 a.m. from her trip to Sacramento, we all piled into our Jeep for the five-hour journey back to Crescent City.

We were surprised to learn his motorcycle insurance that covers $150,000 in bodily injury only covers other people involved in an accident, something his agent did not inform him of.

Motorcycle riders: beware. Make sure your insurance covers your own body, because you will always get hurt the worst between you and a car or you and a guard rail. He thought he would be protected by the money paid for insurance.

I don’t understand all the politics involved, but if our Sutter Coast Hospital gets any smaller (there’s talk of going down to 25 in-patient beds), then they will have to fly even more people out of our town for care.

As my son pointed out, if he had internal bleeding that needed immediate attention, he would not have survived the two-hour flight to Redding.

The older we all get the more we need better medical care, not less. We could lose a great number of the tax-paying population who don’t want to risk living here.

So to close, first, thank you to everyone from Crescent City to Redding who helped with Daniel’s care including his friends. Second, all motorcycle riders check your insurance coverage. And third, don’t downsize Sutter Coast Hospital.

Velma Rinehart is a Crescent City resident.



Del Norte Triplicate:

312 H Street
P.O. Box 277
Crescent City, CA 95531

(707) 464-2141

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