Long time, no post. Life continues to happen at an astounding pace.
Over the last several weeks, I’ve responded with my fire company (RBVFC) to almost a half-dozen accidents involving mopeds vs vehicles. None have been good… but one in particular hit a nerve, which is the purpose of this post.
Anyone who knows me has probably heard me ramble on about “How I died once already” in regards to my motorcycle accident in 2001 when I was hit from behind by a drunk driver doing 50mph. The collision stopped my heart, broke several ribs, broke my back in two places and had me in the hospital for over a week. Even though I was wearing an Arai full-face helmet, I still deal with minor lingering effects from what would later be classified as a “TBI” or traumatic brain injury… but I was luckier than most. I remained above dirt. I recovered and was given a second chance at life. Something I reflect upon daily. Part of the reason I became a firefighter was due to this accident… I wanted to help others have the same second chance I’d been given.
The aftermath of that collision taught me volumes about how the world works (and how fast it can all vanish). The guy who hit me had no insurance, a suspended license, wasn’t even his car and was his 4th DUI. He blew a .32 and claims he didn’t even see me in the road. He could barely stand or speak according to the police. I had to end up retaining a lawyer to sue my own insurance company because they weren’t going to pay out my uninsured/underinsured coverage – claiming it was up to me to prove the guy that hit me had no other form of insurance. This went on for four years while all kinds of bills piled up. After court sentencing, the guy who hit me walked away with a month in jail (the kind where you can go to work during the day and then go back to jail at night) and a couple years of probation. Unreal.
So last week when we were dispatched to yet another moped accident, I sighed and thought “not again…” – I was already on a missing child call, helping the Rehoboth Beach police department look for a non-verbal autistic kid that had gone missing on the boardwalk with our drone. After the kid was located, I headed back toward the station, stopping at the elementary school landing zone where they were loading up the patient from the moped accident to fly him to Christiana via helicopter (Trooper 2). I had no idea who it was or what had happened – just another casualty of the insane and aggressive beach traffic this year.
A couple days later I heard the news that it was Tyler (the guy who owns the dewey beach surf shop) and my heart sank. The similarities between his accident and mine hit home. I knew his name sounded familiar, so I went back through my photo archive and found a bunch of pictures from 2011-12 during hurricane Ophelia. Sure enough, that tattoo on his right hand confirmed it for me… this was the same dude that I shot some surf pictures of long ago. I only spoke with him briefly on the beach a couple times, but he’s a solid guy. Calm, friendly… I thought to myself, “he might not remember me, but I can definitely relate to the place he’s in right now. Everybody knows everybody in Delaware… maybe I can help him by getting the word out.” So here we are.
If you’re reading this, know that he’s got a battle ahead of him – physically, mentally, financially. It’s going to be tough and he has a great network of people backing him, but they’re all going to need help when it comes to paying bills. If there’s anything I learned from being in the water taking pictures of surfers it’s that everyone out there is like family. Especially here in Delaware, everyone knows everyone else. If you can spare a couple bucks, please do it. Give this guy (and his family, and his business) a second chance – I don’t know him that well, but from the brief interactions I had with him I get the impression he’d do the same for me or you.
p.s. – A simple rant from a local firefighter: For those riding a moped, scooter or motorcycle; for the love of holy jesus wear a fucking helmet – and be hyper aware of what’s around and behind you. I see too many people on scooters wearing earbuds, flip-flops and be-bopping down the bus lane as if they don’t have to pay attention to shit. And for those driving cars; please, please slow the fuck down and look before you turn or pull out in front of someone. Be aware. You’re at the beach… just slow it the fuck down a notch. And for everyone… please stop drinking and driving. It absolutely destroys lives. Have a designated driver or have a friend come pick you up. Call a fucking uber/lyft. This shit has to stop.