My wreck story! Share
I wrote this story out since I was bored and maybe it might help out another ATV owner. Prior to this I had never wrecked other than some minor tip-overs.
On Friday August 27th I went to Speedworld Motocross Park to ride with my friend Adam. I have done over 100 laps at this track and I feel I have it pretty down. I clear all of the jumps with the exception of the 100 foot tabletop down the back stretch. I know I can clear it but I purposely slowdown prior to the take off because I don’t feel the “juice is worth the squeeze” for that one. I know it is a smoother landing to clear a jump and land on the downside but to clear it you have to be at the top of 4th gear which is 65mph or so and if things go wrong at that speed you will get very hurt and I am an old fart who has to work on Monday.
The evening is going swell, we are having a good time and I am checking up on that big jump just like I always do. There is some guy in the pits telling me to pin it and clear it because it is such a smoother landing but it goes in one ear and out the other, I don’t care what other people are doing, I am just out to have fun and ride for myself. I head out for probably my 10th lap, I clear the big step up before the big 100 footer and I am in 4th like usual. I let off the gas, tap the brakes, then hit the take off and everything is going great. Then I land about 60 feet later and all hell breaks loose. I remember trying to save it and I remember the quad not reacting the way I expected, then I think I remember getting thrown off the quad and then the light went out. The next thing I remember is being put on a backboard and my good friend Adam telling me to stay awake. I was knocked out for 5 minutes or so. They also duct taped me to the backboard until the air-vac people got there and chewed them out and then I think they strapped me in with regular straps, hell if I remember. I remember my neck being cocked at a strange angle. Adam says they were trying to pry me into the ambulance and they had the neck brace on me in a strange way.
The helicopter ride freaked me out, it was very cramped and it felt like a flying MRI machine. I swear the ceiling was only 2 feet from my face. They also dosed me with morphine. But I still remember feeling pain in my back like specific pressure points were hurting. They put me into a room and they asked me my name and I tell them. Then they ask me what I liked to be called and I said “cookie monster” LMFAO. Everyone knows I like cookies, heck I just changed my profile picture on another message board to cookie monster that very same week. I also remember seeing some girl in the hallway with a skirt on and I swear I saw her underwears, I remember asking JoLea or Adam if I saw what I think I saw and they said yes. Then apparently I started yelling funny things. There is something wrong with me.
I don’t remember much about the hospital other than nurses and doctors waking me up asking me to squeeze their fingers and asking me if I know where I am. The morphine made me nauseous and miserable. I know I threw up once, that was fun. They also gave me some other pain killers in pill form that made me nauseous as hell. I have no idea what time or day it was and I barely remember seeing Les, Ken, Joe, Alex and some other friends. I don’t remember talking to anyone though, just faces. I know on one or two of the nights I got a hold of the phone and started dialing numbers I thought I remembered and I got a hold of a friend or two at some strange hours of the night.
I don’t remember a single doctor or nurse’s face or voice. I was there from Saturday at about 1am until Monday at noon. I don’t even remember them giving me my exit instructions other than go here in 3 weeks for your stitches and go here in 5-6 weeks for your spine. The written instructions were vague too. I think that is why I have been so frustrated since I got out of the hospital. I want to get busy healing but it seems I can’t do a thing until I see the spine doc in October and I don’t remember or have any specific instructions on how to best heal until that time.
They did all kinds of x-rays, scans and MRI’s on me. I had a big, deep gash on top of my knee and it was swollen to about 3 times its size but the MRI was supposedly negative, I compression fractured my back- the T3 through T5 vertebrae, I fractured my left scapula, I had a gash on my cheek and my face was swollen from the impact but the facial x-rays were negative. I was not wearing a neck brace of any kind, just a Vemar helmet, EVS chest protector and riding clothes. Thanks to the Speedworld Staff for getting the helicopter out there quickly and taking care of me.
They gave me a walker and a sling which I never needed or used. My knee was mostly fine other than the stitches. I also have a sweet back brace that is bulky as hell that I had to wear anytime I am up and about and while I am at work. I work behind a computer all day so I only missed a week of work. I didn’t see the spine doctor until Oct 4 th and my x-rays looked like the healing was going good but I was instructed to keep doing nothing for another 4 weeks. Then on October 27 th I saw the doctor again and I was told I can start physical therapy and take my brace off. On November 24 th I will be allowed to resume all of my regular activities with no restrictions. I saw the other doctor for my broken scapula about 3 weeks after the accident and she said the x rays looks good and the fracture should be all healed in another 3 weeks. I still feel pain in my shoulder blade from time to time.
The bill from the hospital was about $45,000 luckily I have decent health insurance and a separate $10,000 medical insurance policy for the ATV. Unfortunately the broken stem, nerfbar, exhaust, axle, and labor came out to about $3,000 and the insurance only values a 2006 TRX450R at $3800 so they had me “total” the quad and cut me a check for all the parts I will need to replace and I “bought” the quad back from them, it was all included in the check they sent.
The worst part of the wreck was definitely not the physical pain it is the emotional stress, I feel pretty useless not being able to do anything physical. A typical week for me is boxing or Muay Thai 2-4 times, 2 softball games on Thursday, race or ride on Saturday and Sunday, play with daughter every day, work in garage, etc. I can’t do any of that and it is driving me insane.
I wish the doctors would have sat me and my family down and gave me a timeframe for healing along with what to do and what not to do. I had to get all of that info weeks after the wreck by visiting the doctor and asking a million questions. It would have been nice to have an expected time frame and goals given to me prior to leaving the hospital. I was also never given any instruction or expectations regarding my obvious concussion. It was a good 10 days before my brain was almost back to normal. It was hard to deal with and the headaches etc sucked pretty bad.
While I was in the hospital and for the first 4 weeks after the hospital my broken scapula hurt more than my back. My back hurt a lot at night and I couldn’t sleep through the night or in my bed, the couch was more comfortable for some reason. I just started physical therapy on October 28 th and my back doesn’t hurt much at all, my knee actually hurts more when I bend it and use it. They told me they MRI’d in the hospital and the results were negative but I might have to go see a knee doc now. You can definitely feel a big crevice in my knee cap, maybe I fractured it.
This wreck also cost me another shot at the Baja 1000, I was offered a sweet ride with a top level pro team but I won't be ready in time. :-(
So what happened, why did I wreck?
Everyone who was there saw my axle snap and my left wheel fly off when I landed on top of the 100 foot table top. That caused me to lose control and fly off the quad. My aftermarket steering stem was also broken right below the handle bars, everyone just assumed the quad rolled and broke it. But after I got the quad back and looked at it, the quad never rolled. The stem just snapped from the stress of the impact and probably my chest hit it or something. The inside of the stem was corroded with rust. The stem was 3-4 years old and the rust weakened the weld, it snapped right at the weld. The rust could have been there due to moisture getting into the stem during the chroming process, who knows. I must be the first person in history to simultaneously snap an axle and steering stem.
I also assumed my giant swollen knee and deep gash was from hitting the ground, but it turns out when the axle and stem snapped I came down hard and slammed my right knee onto the Dasa header pipe, I hit it with enough force to crush the pipe in and it even twisted slightly at the head causing 2 dimple marks from the impact of my knee further down on the pipe. There is black burnt pant material on the head pipe you can see in the photos.
I had no idea that an ATV axle is an item that can wear out and if you have surface scratches on it, they can and will turn into stress fractures. I had been using this axle (it was not a LoneStar Racing Axle) for about 3.5 years and my engineering friends have seen the photos and told me this about the broken axle photos:
"The small darker shiny area is the defect, and it's been there awhile. The remainder of the axle shows a clean break. I'm in charge of all the ultrasonic testing of the rails for a major freight railroad, and the defect in your axle looks exactly like the fatigue defects we routinely detect in the steel rails where I work. Of course our job is to find them before they actually break and cause a catastrophe. There was either some type of internal imperfection in the metal, or a surface condition (nick or scratch) causing a stress riser which grew due to the constant flexing of the axle. If you look closely, you should be able to see a nucleus and growth rings in the defective area. Sorry to sound like a nerd, but this is the type of stuff I look at for a living."
So, please take the time to look at your axle and if it has any major scratches replace it. I am going to start replacing my axles at least every 2 years regardless of what they look like. I am also switching brands and I will be using Lonestar Racing axles and steering stems from now on.
Here is my public service announcement for quad owners/racers:
I have always been under the impression that the top quality axles will bend prior to breaking but mine never bent, it just snapped. (I was using a very popular high quality brand axle
known for being very strong) please inspect your axle for scratches, cracks and hairline fissures when you wash your quad or when doing race prep. I assumed I would see axle damage via a bent axle but I just learned that isn't always the case.
Initially I was not that angry or bummed about the axle breaking and the wreck but every day of pain and suffering makes me more and more angry. It is also funny that I always try to do the semi responsible thing by never riding over my head and never going for that big ass 100 footer but I still ended up having an accident, sh!t happens.
Thanks to all my friends and family for all their help and support.