Michigan Multi-Trauma!

(Last Updated June 26, 2015)

July 14, 2003 (Monday), around 3:30 pm EDT -

So there I was, riding southeast on US-23 along the shore of Lake Huron, on a bright, sunny and windless 80-degree day. I was about five miles northwest of Rogers City, at the spot on the map marked with the red star:

Lake Huron shore
The northeastern part of lower Michigan

I'd travelled 57.2 miles for the day, and was probably doing about 15 mph on the three-foot-wide smoothly-paved shoulder. Sounds just about perfect, doesn't it? Here's how it looked ...

Looking southeast
Looking southeast from this point

The red high-intensity LED taillights on both sides of the bike were flashing. I had an orange flag flying on a six-foot pole, and a blaze orange life vest hanging on the back of the bike. And that's when things became really exciting ...

On the ground!
Looking northwest on US 23. I'm on the ground between the four people
to the left of the ambulance (you can barely see my bright blue shorts).
My bike is further back, half on the gravel, half in the weeds.
(Photo courtesy of Presque Isle Sheriff's Office)

A passerby spotted me along the southeastbound side of US 23, just southeast of County Highway 646, and called it in. Deputy Darin Rabeau of the Presque Isle County Sheriff's Office responded to the scene and arrived at 3:40 pm EDT, at which time he found me lying in the weeds a few feet ahead (southeast) of the wreckage of my bicycle. An Allied EMS ambulance was dispatched from Rogers City at 3:41 pm EDT, and it arrived at the scene at 3:50 pm EDT. Despite my helmet (the inner foam of which is now cracked from ear-to-ear), I was apparently knocked unconscious by the impact, and I have no memory of the accident at all. The last thing I remember was taking the photo of the "Scenic Overlook Ahead" sign (timestamped by my camera at 3:01 pm EDT), which was 6.4 miles (about 30 minutes) before the accident.

Getting me ready
Looking southeast on US 23. I'm the white bundle on the grass
(strapped to a backboard) in front of EMT Lisa (right). EMT Andrea
(center) readies the gurney, as Deputy Darin Rabeau assists.
(Photo courtesy of Presque Isle Sheriff's Office)

Yep, that's me ... "packaged for transport", as they say in the emergency medical business. The ambulance departed the scene at 4:19 pm EDT, arriving at Cheboygan Memorial Hospital (35 miles northwest of the accident scene) at 4:50 pm EDT. I was examined in Cheboygan's Emergency Room, but due to the severity of my injuries, they transferred me by ambulance to Munson Medical Center, a trauma center in Traverse City, MI (109 miles southwest of Cheboygan):

Lake Huron shore
The northern part of lower Michigan

Based on the damage to my bike, the extent of my injuries, and other evidence at the scene, it was conjectured that as I was riding on the paved shoulder I was struck from behind by a fast-moving vehicle (or maybe it was another of those Cheboygan asteroids!). Because the vehicle (or asteroid) left the scene, the accident has been classified as a "hit-and-run". For those of you who would like to pinpoint the accident site, it's:

For you GPS aficionados, that's:

The view from above
"X" marks the spot!

(Photo courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey)

The satellite photo above was taken in 1998, from an altitude of about 250 miles (cool, huh?). That's US-23 arcing down from top-left (northwest) to bottom-right (southeast), and County 646 coming in from the left about a quarter of the way down from the top. The accident site is about 300 yards southeast of the intersection of US-23 and County 646. By the way, if you'd like to see a satellite view of your neighborhood, go to TerraServer and type in your address (then zoom in).

July 16, 2003 (Wednesday) -

Based on a tip from one of his relatives, the driver of the vehicle that struck me was identified by the Presque Isle County Sheriff's Office. His vehicle has damage that matches the evidence left at the scene, but the driver claims to have "blacked out", and said that he does not remember the accident. In accordance with Michigan law, his driver's license has been suspended pending a medical evaluation. I was informed by Deputy Rabeau that the vehicle that stuck me was a 2002 Chevy Avalanche SUV. I'm familiar with the Avalanche, one of my neighbors and several of my friends own them:

Chevy Avalanche
My neighbor's Chevy Avalanche

(About 6,000 pounds worth!)

August 25, 2003 (Monday) -

I received a copy of the incident report from the Presque Isle County Sheriff's Office. Here are some key quotes from that report:

And no good report would be complete without a diagram of the scene, so here it is:

Accident scene diagram
Deputy Rabeau's diagram from the incident report.

You can see the path of my bicycle (on the shoulder), and that of "Vehicle #2" (Chevy Avalanche). Note my body lying spread-eagled at the bottom. Looks pretty grim, doesn't it? At least it's not a chalk body outline! The diagram mentions that I was struck by the passenger-side mirror, but based on my injuries and the damage to the bike, it's likely that I was first struck by the right-front of the Avalanche. That knocked me upwards and towards the right, and then the passenger-side mirror struck me as it passed by. At that point I went flying through the air, and landed in front of the bike.

October 17, 2003 -

The driver of the Avalanche petitioned Michigan's Macomb County Circuit Court for reinstatement of his driver's license. In preparation for pursuing a civil suit against him, I have retained the services of Gary Bloom, a Michigan personal injury attorney.

November 10, 2003 -

The Avalanche driver's license reinstatement hearing was held by the Macomb County Circuit Court. Since his medical evaluation revealed no problems, and he admitted at the reinstatement hearing that he'd fallen asleep at the wheel ("dozed off", according to the transcript of his testimony), his driver's license was reinstated.

July 14, 2004 -

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the accident.

October 6, 2004 -

A civil case against the driver of the Avalanche (hereinafter referred to as "the defendant") was initiated in Macomb County Circuit Court.

November 17, 2004 -

The "Discovery" phase of the civil suit (in which records are obtained, depositions given, etc) is now in progress.

December 27, 2004 -

Based on the transcript of his testimony at the November 10, 2003 driver's license reinstatement hearing, the defendant was charged with careless driving for causing the accident.

January 28, 2005 -

I completed the Interrogatories (part of Discovery), which in my case consisted of fifty-four multi-part written questions asked by a lawyer for the defendant's insurance company.

February 28, 2005 -

Michigan's 89th District Court found the defendant guilty of careless driving.

March 16, 2005 -

I gave my Deposition (another part of Discovery) in the civil case at my lawyer's office near Detroit. This consisted of over three hours of questioning by an attorney for the defendant's insurance company.

July 9, 2005 -

My attorney informed me that the defendant's insurance company has decided to settle the case for his policy limit.

July 14, 2005 -

Today marks the two-year anniversary of the accident, and the legal wheels are still turning.

October 1, 2005 -

I received the settlement check from the defendant's insurance company. Since my damages exceed that amount, a claim has been made with my auto insurance company to be evaluated under my underinsured motorist policy.

March 27, 2006 -

My attorney informed me that my auto insurance company has decided to settle my underinsured motorist's claim for the policy limit.

April 10, 2006 -

I received the settlement check from my auto insurance company for the limit of the underinsured motorist policy.

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