To further personalize the issue and raise awareness, Y2L is now featuring stories that highlight the importance of Yielding to cyclists' Life on the road. If you would like to share your story, please contact us.
Dave Sherman's Story
On October 24 beloved cyclist Dave Sherman was killed in North Carolina when a women in a SUV crossed over into oncoming traffic to hit Dave head on, only to flee the scene. We have included beautiful narratives by Dave's wife and Dave's closest friend Robert Lippitt that help give a face, personality, and life to the incredible man so tragically killed at the hands of one woman's gross negligence. On November 15th, Robert and friends rallied the cycling community to orchestrate a tremendous memorial ride for Dave. Yield to Life was thrilled to be a part of this momentous event and grateful to be the beneficiary of the monies raised. The funds generated will go a long way to helping us accomplish our goals and work tirelessly to prevent future senseless tragedies. We have included pictures from the ride to show the hope that we all have and the dedication we share towards making the roads safer and towards holding this woman accountable for her actions. We have much work to be done to put pressure on the judge to issue an appropriate sentence to the woman who killed Dave and send a message to motorists regarding the severity of this issue.Read More - Ann Sherman »
Saturday, October 24 started as any other Saturday with Dave's alarm blaring and him ignoring it. I gave him a gentle kick and reminded him of the Greensboro Century ride that he was planning on riding that morning. He crawled out of bed and went to the computer to check the forecast. Dave realized that his plans may have to change as the weather prediction showed rain showers with wind gusts between 14 to 19 mph. After much debating, he decided to stay in and practice his violin for an upcoming Philharmonia performance the following weekend. Around 11:00am the rain really started coming down, sheets of rain blew across the backyard and Dave realized he had made the correct decision. He always second guessed himself when he cancelled a ride due to weather.
Later in the day the sun peaked out and the roads started to dry. The biker's itch began in earnest. Dave went to the bedroom, changed into his biker shorts, socks, and jersey. Gathering his keys and identification, along with a couple of water bottles, he waved good-bye as he headed out the door for a beautiful fall ride. That was the last time I spoke to my husband. As it grew dark outside, I began to get a little concerned. But, Dave had been late before and he always came home. Around 7:00 I called his cell to ask if he wanted me to come pick him up. No answer. At 7:30 pm there was a knock on the door. Two state troopers were standing there, asking to come in. Dave had been hit and killed by a vehicle around 5:30 that evening. Even worse, the driver had fled the scene. My nightmare had begun. Over the next several days, family and friends gathered together to remember Dave. We had the funeral to plan and arrangements to make. Throughout it all was the fact that our private grief was being played out in the media. A cyclist killed by a hit and run driver was big news.
Thanks to many people who chose not to turn their heads, but to become involved in the search, the vehicle was located and a driver was charged. We will look to the legal process for justice, but it will not bring Dave back.
I have found a new family in the cycling community. Dave's friends came over the next day, called, and emailed support. While I don't know the joy that David felt as he sped down the road, wind in his face, pace line behind him, I do know the camaraderie that he discovered with this great bunch of people. As we try to make sense of this tragedy, the biking community is planning a memorial ride in his honor with contributions being made to the yield to life campaign. My hope is that the roads will one day be a safe place for cyclists to ride and that no wife, husband, or child will have to open their door to the state trooper with the message, your loved one was in a bike accident and didn't survive.Close [x]
When the phone rang, my wife looked at me over her coffee mug. At the exact same time, we both said "Dave," and laughed. His Sunday morning phone calls were comically predictable. So was my response. I let it ring. I knew Dave would leave his usual message.
"Hey Robert, this is Dave. I just wanted to see if you were interested in getting in a ride today. Give me a call."
Dave didn't leave a message, and the phone rang again. Again, no message. I got irritated. Somebody was messing with my routine. When it happened a third time, I picked up. The person on the other end wasn't Dave.
I still do not believe the words this person spoke. I'm not sure I ever will.
Dave had been out the day before getting in a few training miles. He was working to get better. That's what Dave did.
He had only been interested in bikes for a few years, but when Dave got interested in something, it was amazing to behold. He didn't do things half-way. Whether it was his job, his bike, his violin or his family, Dave approached the things he cared about with a passion that was breathtaking.
Just as impressive was Dave's commitment to his friends. Dave had recently purchased a beautiful new bike, but the process he went through to get it was excruciating. Dave was more than a regular customer at his local bike shop. He was a nearly constant presence and had endeared himself to the owners. Problem was --they didn't carry the bike Dave wanted. For months he agonized over the prospect of buying his bike elsewhere. Dave's loyalty ran incredibly deep. In the end, he bought his new bike from his friends.
This year Dave got a coach and worked incredibly hard to become a stronger rider. He was relentless. Dave's ability to endure suffering was awe inspiring. One time I watched him pedal for 25 more miles after he took a nasty fall on mile 50 of a particularly tough ride. After he got off his bike, he went and got 30 plus stitches. He never expressed any concern over the cut. He worried a lot about his bike.
I've seen faster riders, but I'll never see anyone tougher or more determined. Riding with Dave, however, wasn't some mirthless exercise in self-improvement. Although he took it very serious, riding with Dave was fun. In fact, it was much more than that. Sometimes we had what can only be described as pure joy. The kind of feeling we had as kids when we rode our bikes fast and felt we owned the world. Dave's love of riding was contagious. His love of life was contagious.
Dave is now being described as a "Renaissance Man." They call him that because his experiences, interests and talents were incredibly broad. People are talking about the time Dave spent living and working in the Congo, his ability to speak fluent French and play Tchaikovsky on the violin, and his vast knowledge of complex tax regulations. All of this and more is true about Dave, but when I hear him described as a "Renaissance Man," my honest reaction is "that's not my Dave." It sounds way too pretentious and Dave was anything but.
My Dave is the guy I sweated with and laughed with on long bike rides. He's the guy who enlightened me to the fact that there is nothing better than tropical fruit Skittles when you're about to bonk. Dave's a guy who could talk at length about classical music and world events, but he could also talk about pro wrestling and NASCAR. My Dave is the guy who walked into convenience stores in the sticks of North Carolina wearing his cycling kit, and by the time he left, the same people who stared at him when he walked in would be laughing with him when he walked out.
We had huge plans for next year. We were going to do all the big rides. We were going to head out West. We were going to ride our bikes in France.
None of this will happen now.
The woman responsible was driving an SUV that weighed more than two tons and she was doing it without a driver's license. Hers had been taken away. She swerved into his lane and hit him head on. It was her birthday. Dave will never have another one.
We will never know for sure if she was drunk. She stole that opportunity from us. In an enormous act of sheer cowardice, she ran away and hid. The next day she drove her SUV to pick up some cigarettes. When the clerk questioned her about the tremendous damage to her vehicle, she lied. She said she hit a deer. Before she was ever arrested, she hired the most powerful criminal attorney in our State. She was released after paying a bond of $5,000. It was less than the cost of Dave's new bike, the bike he'll never ride again.
An animal was involved in the collision that killed my friend, but it was no deer. The animal was behind the steering wheel. Only an animal with no soul could behave the way she did.
I wish I had an answer. I wish I knew how to keep this from happening again. Sadly, I am too old to believe in magic wands.
Better laws might help. But laws make no difference to animals like the one who killed Dave. They simply do not care.
I suppose the best we can do is talk to one another. Talk to people about what can happen. I will do this, but I do not expect the world to change. I do not expect us to put down our cell phones and stop driving drunk. I do not expect us to suddenly stop thinking that where we are going is so much more important than the safety of everyone else on the road. I do not expect much these days.
Then again, maybe one person I talk to will slow down. Maybe one person I talk to will give what I say a second thought. Maybe, just maybe, by talking and sharing Dave's story I can save one person's life.
I am probably hoping for way too much, but I will not stop. Dave wouldn't stop. I owe him the same.
I miss my Sunday morning calls. I miss my friend.
Jeremy Webb's Story
Thank you to Jeremy Webb for sharing his inspirational story that so vividly illustrates the cascading events when one motorist fails to Yield to Life. We are so grateful that Jeremy was able to recovery and move forward from this senseless tragedy.Read More »
On August 18, 2007 at 7:00pm after about 56 miles of riding, my sister and I were passing through a neighborhood to lead us back home. We had about an hour before it got dark. I was going down a hill when a suburban turned left onto a side street in front of me. I do not remember anything from about 15 minutes before the wreck to about 2 hours after the wreck. I am told that I smashed into the side of the suburban busting out the back seat passenger side window. My sister said when she rode up on me I was lying down, holding my shoulder and saying it was hurting pretty bad. My arm was bleeding pretty badly so she took her cycling shirt and wrapped it around the open wounds. She said I kept asking what happened and where we were. The ambulance arrived and strapped me down onto a spine board and that's when I mentioned that my neck hurt. We went to the local hospital and after many x-rays a CAT scan, and MRI they came in and said my neck was broke in three places and they were sending me to Houston for surgery. This was the first I remember. My dad rode in the ambulance with me to Houston. I remember dying of thirst but they couldn't give me any water and the spine board was very uncomfortable. I laid in the ER in Houston on a Saturday night until around 6am Sunday morning. I had to stare at the ceiling for hours listening to gun shot and knife stab victims screaming. Hours later I had more x-rays and another MRI. This all showed that my neck was stable and I would not need surgery. The three broken vertebra turned into one and somehow two of the vertebra were already fused together (possibly from a childhood neck injury). They had also slipped forward tearing all the ligaments and stuff holding them together. Without surgery I would wear a hard neck brace for about 12 weeks. They preformed surgery on my shoulder and removed tons of broken glass from beneath my skin. It would be weeks later until another doctor looked at my shoulder and determined that it had been fractured and separated. I was released from the hospital on Wednesday. I had many checkups on my neck and lots of physical therapy for my shoulder. It has been about 5 months since the accident and I feel about 90% healed. My scars remind me everyday and I feel grateful and very lucky.
During all this time I have talked to 4 different lawyers about this case. Turns out the guy that hit me did not have insurance on his vehicle but showed proof of insurance at the wreck. His excuse was he was in the process of selling the vehicle. The officer did not ticket the guy for failure to yield and made excuses that I was hard to see. The man that hit me still says today that it was not his fault and I came out of nowhere. Luckily, I had medical insurance that pays 80%. But still when medical bills add up to about 100k and you're still receiving them in the mail it can get expensive for you. So the guy doesn't have insurance and no lawyer will want to take the case since they are not guaranteed any money. I could pay the lawyer up front for all the fees but in the end I would just be out more money. You can't get anything from someone who has nothing. We looked into my car insurance for help. Turns out I don't have Uninsured Motorist Coverage. This coverage would have paid for all my medical expenses and any other injury-related loss. We added it the day we found out. I have never known about this coverage and for a few bucks more it's worth every penny. I did have PIP or Personal Injury Protection which was $2,500. Recently, on May 16, 2008 I went in for a 6 month checkup for my neck. The Doctor clarified what exactly happened to my neck. He said all the ligaments were torn holding C5 and C6 together, my disc in between the vertebrae is shot and I had fractured many of the small bones in the back of my neck at C5 and C6. He said I have developed arthritis in this area and I will probably have pain for the rest of my life. In two years I should be at best he said. I have a few different options: deal with the pain, use pain medicine to deal with the pain, shots or potential surgery fusing the two vertebrae together. As of now I take pain medicine when I can't sleep and when I can't handle the pain. Most of the time I'm able to deal with it but it always feels stiff and not like it used to. My shoulder also still gives me a few problems. It seems to get tired and weak really quickly.
So far I have completed 4 triathlons this season and I plan on competing in many more. I actually placed 2nd in my age group at my last triathlon. Since I was training for my first half iron when I was hit I have decided that what I went through was enough suffering to suffice my goal of completing one. Now I have decided to take on the full Ironman in the next couple of years when I feel my body/neck can handle that distance. It has always been a goal of mine and now it will mean much more.
N. Chris Lynch's Story
Thank you to Chris for sharing your incredible story about devastation that can ensue from just one moment of inattentiveness behind the the wheel.Read More »
I've been an avid road bike rider since 2000. On Christmas Day 2004 I went on a short ride. My motivation for riding that day was so that I could eat pecan pie without guilt.
Three miles from home I was struck from behind be a car going 50 miles per hour and launched nearly 70 feet landing on my head and left shoulder. According to the police report the driver dropped a cd and while bending down to pick it up he drifted into the bike lane and struck me. He was not intoxicated. The driver was cited for "failure to maintain lane" and released.
I however was hospitalized and over the next year had 4 surgeries to repair the damage. During that time my dependence on pain medication grew to a devastating addiction. On January 2007 I checked into rehab to detoxify my mind and body.
What I realize now is that the pain medication that helped with the physical pain masked the emotional trauma. The emotional scars were for deeper and more painful than the physical scars.
The result of that simple lapse in judgment from an otherwise responsible driver devastated my life. While physically and emotionally damaged and addicted to powerful narcotics, I lost my business, my home and my financial security. I almost lost my family and my life.
Today I'm rebuilding. I've started a new business and I'm training for my third triathlon. I'm completely drug free and I help others suffering from addiction in a 12 step program. I want to give back by helping to educate drivers and cyclists on safely and respectfully sharing our roads. I want to help others Yield to Life!
N. Chris Lynch is a 44 year old husband, father of 3, entrepreneur and amateur triathlete from Las Vegas, Nevada.
Walter Catton's Story
Here is Walter Catton's poignant story. Thank you so much Walter for sharing your incredible story, a story that reminds us how fragile life is and how important it is to Yield to Life on the road.
I went out for a 30 mile ride – a route that I ride on a regular basis and am very familiar. I was on my way home and was 2 ½ miles away when I was hit.Read More »
So where do I start –
Sunday May 3rd was a beautiful day in West Michigan – my wife Kim and I were determined to do something with the kids to enjoy the day. We took our six kids to a local park to enjoy the weather and the time together. This park has some significance which you will see in a minute. We played tag, frisbee, went on the swings and climbed the jungle gym for hours. Later that day – I went out for a 30 mile ride – a route that I ride on a regular basis and am very familiar. I was on my way home and was 2 ½ miles away when I was hit.
My injuries were so server that the first responders called for the AeroMed helicopter. The irony in the park was that I was air lifted from the same park that Kim and I took the kids to earlier that day – how ironic to think that the same park we celebrated and played in earlier that day was now where I was fighting for my life in the hands of God and the amazing medical professionals that have had a hand in my treatment along the way. In addition to the broken legs, wrist and jaw – I was bleeding from the femoral artery in my right leg. There was great concern I might not survive. When the officer went to my house to inform Kim of the accident – he told her it might be in her best interest to have someone watch the kids and get someone to drive her as this would not be any easy night. I spent the first 11 days in the trauma ICU – at times being kept alive by my determination, blood transfusions and a myriad of medical equipment. I required approximately 20 units of new blood as the surgeons worked to address all of the problem areas over several days.
In addition to the broken/shattered bones I also required a muscle transplant, cadaver bone graphs and a stent. I had to have my right abdominal muscle removed and transplanted to my right shin to compensate for the skin and calf muscle that was lost in the accident. Additionally – a skin graft was required to cover the muscle that was moved to the right shin. This procedure is what will allow me to walk – as the other option at the time was to amputate at the knee.
During the 40 days I was in the hospital – I lost 43 pounds – most, if not all of my muscle, underwent countless procedures and surgeries and through it all kept my attitude positive and focused on being home with my family and the simple fact that I was alive. As time went on – I started thinking about walking, then running after the kids, then riding – I am going to have to convince Kim to let me get a new bike as mine (an original Klein - almost 10 years old) did not fare to well against the SUV. The one issue is that Kim is pushing for a bike with no wheels – so she can keep an eye on me while I am on a ride. J
On the 80th day since the accident – I stood for the first time – albeit on weak legs I was able to take some steps assisted by a walker and my physical therapist – I walked from my wheelchair to the stationary bike and climbed on through all the pain and rode for 20 minutes. What a great feeling to be able to experience all over again.
Pierr Assaf's Story
Thank you to Pierre for sharing his incredible story that highlights the dangers of left hand turns with respect to cyclists approaching from the opposite direction:
All I remember was a huge truck grill in my left field of vision and everything went black. Strangely my last conscious thoughts were: "You finished the grueling uphill climb back home and you're sleeping in bed".Read More »
The 23d of January 07 was a bright sunny day that seemed to beckon me onto the road. About 1PM, I embarked on a routine training 22-mile ride from Yucaipa, CA through the Sunset loop in Redlands and back. On my way home and about ½ hour before the end of my ride I was traveling downhill north east in very light traffic on Alta Vista Rd. I was looking forward to a afternoon nap before my night shift at the Kaiser ER in Fontana. All I remember was a huge truck grill in my left field of vision and everything went black. Strangely my last conscious thoughts were: "You finished the grueling uphill climb back home and you're sleeping in bed". Later I realized that I was hit and badly hurt by a F-150 truck traveling in the opposite direction (uphill) and making a left hand turn at 30 mph as witnessed by bystanders. My bright Jersey, my helmet mirror and a powerful red flasher attached to my saddle post did not protect me from a "left cross". I regained consciousness after the arrival of the first responders and the police. A visit to Loma Linda University Trauma center revealed that I had sustained several injuries including a left hemothorax (blood around the left lung), 5 broken ribs a pneumomediastinum (air in the center of the chest), a pelvic fracture and worse of all, a shattered leg bone with dislocation of the left knee. The head of the femur (thigh bone) cracked its socket but I was spared a fracture of the thigh bone. This was the beginning of my calvary and over 6 months of treatment and rehabilitation. I watched in disbelief my thigh, leg and buttock muscles melt away almost overnight after the injuries. I could not believe that an instant of inattention on the part of a driver could cause so much misery and pain. I remember asking the policeman if I had done anything illegal that would have contributed to the accident. He answered with a hint of irony in his voice: "Flying without a license" in reference to the extraordinary distance I traveled after being ejected.
The trauma surgeon rattling the statistics of injuries and fatalities from auto vs. bicycles echoed the numbers I had once read. I remembered a statement in a book by lance Armstrong about this issue: "it is not a matter of if but when a road cyclist gets hit..." It took me 18 years of regular riding and 3 decades of casual riding for the law of average to catch up with me. The upshot was that the bike saved my life. The carbon fiber Giant frame shattered, absorbing some of the impact. At the ripe age of 55 and thanks to the benefits of exercise, I was able to sustain a drop of nearly 50% of my hemoglobin from internal injuries without the need of transfusions. My functional capacity allowed me to recover faster after the surgeries and I was able to walk 5 months before predicted. My road cycling years seem to be over for now. Needless to say, I miss cycling everyday... The spinning classes at the Gym and the home trainers cannot replace the joy, exhilaration and pain of riding solo or in a group.
I want to thank Dave Zabriskie and the Yield-to-Life organization for raising awareness about the plight of the road cyclists. My donation is but a token of appreciation for this mission of mercy.