September 7, 2014 – Bike Accident
On August 12, 2014 at approximately 2:00 pm I rolled into the small Central Oregon town of Prineville. It was a beautiful day and I decided to have a break at a Starbucks coffee shop. I spent 2 hours there reading and trying to decide on a plan of action for the rest of the day. I was headed towards the Oregon coast and debating whether to continue to the town of Redmond, about 35 km down the road, or stay here for the night. The weather was good and I had lots of energy so I decided to continue. At the time, I had no idea of the impact of that decision.
I cycled up a long hill as I headed out of town and soon settled down on a long flat stretch. The sun was getting lower in the sky but the traffic was light and scenery beautiful. I remember thinking that I would be in Redmond in less than 2 hours, lots of time to find a camping site and cook dinner.
I was headed west on Highway 126. The road is one of a few that crosses this part of Oregon and it makes up a portion of the Trans America Trail extending across the United States. The Adventure Cycling Association has mapped a series of routes for those interested in bicycle trips across the country and this road is on that popular route. As someone not familiar with the area, you can only rely on others to keep you from the busy roads but since this was part of the national bicycle route, it was an easy decision. The Association picks roads that are meant to be light in traffic and I had no reason to think it was any busier than any other road I have cycled on in the last 7 months. After cycling in some of the world’s largest cities in India, I had no particular reason to worry about a remote area in Oregon.
As I was biking, Ken and Marvie Moyer pulled on the highway. Ken was driving and Marvie was in the passenger seat and they were trailing behind a white pickup truck. Ken and Marvie saw me riding my bike and noticed that I was in the bike lane on the far right side of the road. Ahead they noticed a large semi-truck heading towards them on the other side of the road. Marvie suddenly yelled out that the white pick up truck they were behind had moved over into the bike lane and it was clear that he did not see me. The white pick up had pulled over into the bike lane to make room for the oncoming semi-truck. They both watched in horror as the mirror of the pick up struck me in the back. They saw me fly over the side of the road into the ditch. The driver of the white pick up pulled over as did Ken and Marvie and they raced to me lying in the ditch. Ken sat by my side as I kept trying to get up and he told me to relax. He tried to get my name but I did not reply. I managed to sit up and kept repeating that I could not breathe. Ken told me not to stand and held me up in a sitting position, trying to keep my head straight. Ken and Marvie called the local ambulance and then searched for some identification. At this point my bike was on the side of the road with my bags strewn all over the place. My front handlebar bag had flown off into the water in the ditch and my shoes were over 100 feet down the road. The pick up truck was traveling 100 km/h when it hit me in the back and the force of the impact was severe.
I met both of them later and Marvie was still very shaken up about the accident. She could hardly talk about it without breaking down as she was in the car right behind the truck that hit me. Ken stopped the truck and spent a lot of time ensuring I was okay. Ken took my brother Ed out to the accident site and both Ken and Marvie did the same with my sister Brenda. Ken came to visit me in the hospital on 2 different occasions and both came to the party that we held to thank all those who helped me. They were both grateful that I was making a recovery as they feared the worse after seeing the impact of the vehicle. Ken and Marvie, I can’t thank you enough for all that you did for someone that was a complete stranger.
I was struck in the back by the mirror of the pick up truck. This picture was taken about 10 days after the accident and you can clearly see where I was hit on my back.
Here is a picture of the road where I was hit and you can see the narrow bike lane just as I crossed over an area with a creek on the side.
I was hit from behind and flew over this steel pole on the side of the road.
The impact of the vehicle sent me airborne and I flew right over this creek. I’m not sure what would have happened if I had landed in this water a few feet deep. My front handlebar bag with my glasses and camera landed in the water.
I landed in a bush on the other side of the creek, the only soft landing in the area. I was close to a barbed wire fence but managed to avoid it too.
I am not someone who loudly insists that cyclists should wear a helmet but I could now be a poster boy for why they should be worn at all times. Something hit me on the back of the head. It might have been the mirror on the truck or it might have been from the impact of landing in the ditch but it is pretty clear that I would not be here today if I wasn’t wearing the helmet. The back part of a helmet has the thickest padding and there is a large chunk completely missing. I had a concussion but based on a picture of my helmet after the accident, it could have been much worse. The entire back section of the helmet was destroyed.
In my right rear pannier bag, I carry a MacBook Air computer. The computer had a protective cover and was buried amongst all the clothing when the car hit. Here is a picture of the computer after the accident which shows the power of the impact on my bike.
A few minutes after Ken and Marvie called the ambulance, a lady named Karen Yeargain drove by the scene and stopped to help. Karen was the first person with medical training on the site and she ran to my side to provide assistance until the ambulance arrived. Here is Karen, the lady who drove by and stopped to help despite seeing a number of people by my side. Thank you Karen for your help. You didn’t have to stop after seeing there were a number of people already there but I am grateful for the effort you made to stop and help.
The ambulance arrived and a man with CPR training kept trying to assess my status. He asked me my name and I simply stated Fred, not telling my last name. He said I was in an agitated state and difficult to calm down. He then asked who the President of the U.S was and I didn’t respond. When the helicopter came, the pilots advised the people around me that they could see a black bag about 50 meters in the field so they retrieved that and found my passport. The police came and interviewed the driver of the pick-up truck and Ken and Marvie and also took my bike and some of my belongings. Some of my bags and belongings were also put on the helicopter with me. The helicopter landed in a field on the other side of a barbed wire fence. I was put on a stretcher and a number of people lifted me over the fence and into the helicopter. I was airlifted to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon. I still do not remember a single thing about the entire half hour I was on the ground or the trip to the hospital. By the way, Canadians have medical coverage but I am not a resident of Canada so am not eligible. I have private health insurance that I paid premiums on since I left Canada. It’s a good thing too because the cost of the helicopter ride alone was $25,000 and the estimated cost of my 10 days in the hospital would be between $150,000 - $200,000.
After a total of 30 minutes I was admitted to the hospital, still unaware of what was happening. The doctors asked the name of relatives and I gave them my twin brother Ed but they could not contact him with an unlisted number. They were able to get hold of my sister Brenda and advised her of the accident. Brenda called the rest of the family and plans were immediately underway for Ed to fly out to the hospital the following night. The doctor advised my family that I was in serious condition and that a family member should make travel plans to come to Bend. The hospital was most worried about my lungs and were not sure if I would have to go on a breathing machine to stay alive. It was not the best news for family members to receive late at night (it was about 1:00 am in Toronto) and the news caused a lot of anxiety.
I was admitted to the hospital about 5:30 pm on Tuesday August 12th. The list of injuries included,
- bi-lateral collapse of lungs (both lungs)
- contusions (bruises) on both lungs
- fracture of my left shoulder bone
- fracture of 2 bones in my spinal column
- 14 broken ribs
I was admitted into Intensive Care and received a needle decompression in my right lung and a tube was placed in the lung. I had CT scans on my head, neck, chest, abdomen and pelvis.
Here is a picture on one of those early nights in the hospital. The red pillow is a cough pillow that I would hold close. It hurts to cough with 14 broken ribs and holding the pillow tight against your chest would cushion the blow a little.
On the first night I woke up at one point completely disoriented, not knowing where I was or how i got there. I was on pain medication, had a tube in my chest and was hooked up to a monitor. I was told that I had a few phone calls but do not remember talking to anyone.
The next night, Wednesday August 13th, my brother Ed arrived in Bend. He asked me if I remember anything and the only thing that came to me was that I remember hearing a voice say “I can’t breathe”. I must have been hearing my own voice as that is what I kept repeating to the people that first came to my assistance after the accident.
The following day a reporter from the local t.v station came to interview me. I watch this video and vaguely remember talking with them.
The video was played on the news in Bend and numerous people came forward to offer hospitality. On the third night I remember a man and his young daughter walking outside of my room. I motioned to my brother to ask them to come in. They were from the Philippines and heard about my accident and the fact that I was trying to raise funds for an orphanage in their country and they just came to thank me. I can’t tell you the impact that something like that has on someone sitting in a hospital, far away from family and friends. The outpouring of encouragement and support was incredible and the small gesture of just coming to the hospital to say thank you will always stand out in my mind.
Another couple who heard about the accident was Jim and Jane Kress. Jim went out of his way to track down my family in Canada. He heard that my brother was on his way to Bend so he went to the airport late at night to pick him up. My brother was flying into a new city, not really sure of what he was going to face and full of anxiety. He arrived and saw a sign with his name and was offered a ride to the hospital. Jim and Jane offered their home to me and to anyone in my family. He also offered us the use of his vehicle as long as we wanted. Here is a picture of this kind family. Thank you both for your generous offer of hospitality.
One of the nurses at the hospital that attended the party was Heidi. She was one of the nurses when I was on the first floor and one of the first to care for me during my stay.
My brother ended up staying at a local hotel due to the proximity to the hospital. He would come to the hospital early every morning and then spend the day with me or taking care of other tasks. Ken Moyer drove him out to the accident site and they found my sunglasses and watch sitting in the ditch. Ed also went to the police station to pick up my bicycle and then took it to a bike store to put in a box for the flight back to Canada. Ed is a Physical Therapist and Osteopath and was able to communicate with the doctors in their language so had a good understanding of my condition and what it would take to recover.
I stayed in the Intensive Care unit for 9 nights and in that time did not leave the bed. I used a small bottle to go to the bathroom as I couldn’t even get up. On 3 different occasions I tried to walk and each time I fainted but was caught by the nurses without doing any more damage. Those first days were a struggle to say the least. Every morning I would have a chest x-ray and was closely monitored 24 hours a day.
My brother left after a week and my sister Brenda was going to be the replacement. On the day she arrived I was moved to another floor. I was still struggling to move around but did manage to go to the bathroom on my own so was seeing some signs of progress.
Another in the long list of people offering hospitality was Ron Rousseau. He also heard about my accident and contacted my brother. He offered his home to me and Brenda after I was to be discharged. His home had a lot of steep stairs so I couldn’t stay there but Brenda took him up on the offer and she stayed with him for 4 nights. Ron cooked meals for my sister and she really enjoyed her time there and his kind hospitality. On behalf of my entire family, thank you very much Ron.
Every morning at 5:00 am I would be woken up by Bethany. Bethany is a medical student working with Dr. Van Amburg. She would take my blood pressure, listen to my breathing and ask questions about my nights sleep. This would be followed by a team coming in to take chest x-rays. Dr. Van Amburg and Bethany were always positive and encouraging and always made me feel better with their visits. Here are my primary care givers at the hospital.
I also had special visitors. In that last week Cor and Jane Kors visited me in Bend. Cor is the brother of one of my brother-in-laws. He lives with his family in Los Angeles. Prior to the accident, my plan was to bicycle to L.A and leave my bike with Cor and Jane while I flew back home to visit my family. They were on vacation in Canada and driving back to Los Angeles when I had my accident so they stopped in Bend to say hello. It had been a lot of years since we saw them but it was nice to see familiar faces.
On August 20th, the 9th day in the hospital, Dr. Van Amburg was wrestling with the decision of when I was to be discharged. They were concerned with my fainting episodes when I tried to stand up and also concerned about my left lung. The tube into my right lung had been removed but the left lung was not improving so they inserted a Heimlich valve through my chest and into the cavity of my lung. It was a very painful procedure but nearly 300 ml (the amount in a can of coke) of fluid was removed from the lungs. The valve was removed the following day and after a final x-ray, I was given approval to be discharged. I spent a total of 10 days in the hospital. The doctor was concerned that I might acquire pneumonia if I stayed any longer so pushed for my release. At this point I was able to have short walks in the hospital but was still struggling to breathe and the walks would exhaust me. I was told that I had to come back for another check up in a week so we had to stay in Bend while I started the long recovery.
Tim Lester is another one of the many people from Bend who offered to help. He heard about the accident and being an avid cyclist was eager to help. A few years earlier he lost is partner to cancer and he had a lot of hands on experience dealing with people needing home care. Tim called my brother and offered his home. He came by the hospital and along with my sister Brenda, we all headed to his home.
We could not have asked for a better place to recover. The room I would call home for the next week was on the ground floor and opened up to a large deck that was perfect for walking around when I needed exercise. Tim offered the use of his car for Brenda and she would go into town to buy food for all of us. We would eat breakfast and dinner together in the room. It was a very quiet and peaceful home and absolutely ideal.
One day Brenda was talking to Tim and expressed her appreciation for how many people in Bend offered their hospitality. She said she wished there was a way to thank everyone so Tim suggested hosting a small party. We invited all the names of people we knew that offered help. Many were not able to attend but there was a large group present and we enjoyed a wonderful dinner one evening.
Here is a picture of my sister Brenda. She gave up 2 weeks of her summer holidays to take care of me. She made meals and was constantly by my side the entire time in the hospital, at Tim’s house and on the long train ride back to Canada. I could not have made it home without her. Her positive outlook on life and high energy level were invaluable in those early days where I struggled to move around.
With all the love and support that we found in Bend, Tim Lester stood out. He opened his home to us both without any conditions and just made everything easy. He gave me a stroller that I am still using to walk around. He hosted the party for all the people we wanted to thank and then drove me to the hospital on the follow up check. Finally, when it was time to leave, he drove us 6 hours,all the way to Seattle to catch our train for Toronto. There is just no way to express our gratitude for this kind man.
Here is a picture of me in Tim’s house. I pretty much stayed in that exact position for 6 days.
Here is the view I had from the bed.
I was able to get outside and enjoy some of the beautiful weather in Bend.
On Wednesday August 27th, I had a final check up and was given the green light to leave Bend. I was told that it would be risky to fly with my lungs so we arranged to take a train from Seattle to Buffalo and then have a family member pick us up to drive into Canada. The trip from leaving the door in Bend to arriving in Buffalo would take 80 hours, over 3 days.
Tim drove us to Seattle where we picked up the Amtrak train heading towards Chicago. We had a small sleeper car and I spent my days sitting there reading or sleeping.
In Chicago, we transferred trains to Buffalo and were met there by my sisters Linda and Sandra. It was then a short trip to Oakville, my home for the next few months.
I arrived at my brother’s place in Oakville, Ontario on Saturday August 30th. At this point I was able to get up and walk and started a routine of 2 to 3 half hour walks every day. I am still taking pain medication to ease the pain in my lungs and ribs but am slowly seeing some progress. I still have extensive bruising on my back and arms. This photo was taken 23 days after the accident.
The accident has obviously changed my plans. I will spend the next 4 months with my family in Canada and will not be updating this journal but I waned to make a personal plea to all those who have followed my trip over the last 7 months.
As you know I was riding to support the Angel House Orphanage and it is devastating to me to have my trip cut short without having completed my goal of biking around the world. I feel like I have let the orphanage down and don’t want the 15,000 km’s I have biked to have been in vain. I gave up a lot to do this trip and it almost cost me my life so I want to make a final request for support.
A week ago, the Angel House Orphanage joined up with the Global Giving Foundation (GGF), an organization that accepts charities registered around the world. If Angel House is accepted, it will provide access to donors around the world and really help ensure the economic survival in the long-term.
In order to be a member of the Global Giving Foundation. Angel House has to prove that they are a legitimate charity capable of raising support. They have 30 days to raise a total of $5,000 from 40 different donors to prove that they can raise support and I told David that I would do my best to help them reach that goal. The idea of raising $5,000 shouldn’t be a big deal but we need your support.
In January 2014, I left Bangkok with a goal of helping Angel House and this is a great opportunity. If they are accepted by GGF, it may mean people from around the world will help finance the great work they are doing.
I will not be providing another update here until at least Christmas so I want to make a final plea for help. I believe in the work Angel House is doing and would like to ask for your help. We need 40 people to raise a total of $5,000 within the next few weeks. Contact people at work or at your church and encourage them to donate. Get a group of friends together and donate a small amount. I can’t do any more cycling now because of my injury but if you have been reading my journals over the last 7 months and want to support the effort I have made, please donate today. Any amounts would be greatly appreciated and if they meet the goal of $5,000, it will go a long way to increasing exposure around the world.
You can write to me at, if you are interested in helping. If you want to see the work that Angel House is doing please visit their website at,
I did the best I can do and gave everything I had. My attempts have been cut short after getting hit by a car but my enthusiasm for helping Angel House has not died. I will continue to support them and simply ask that you join with me now to ensure that the work done to this point is not in vain.Thank you to everyone who offered words of encouragement in the last month. The road to recovery will be long and painful but I am grateful to be alive and thankful for all the family and friends that have shown support.