His wife’s face “looked like hamburger.”
Woodbury residents Rick and Beth Jones will be recognized with a “Saved by the Helmet” award from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety as part of the Toward Zero Deaths program today, June 12.
They were , sending Beth tumbling through the air and Rick skidding beneath the bike.
The State Patrol officer who contacted Beth about the award said that if they hadn’t been wearing their helmets, they could have died.
“Absolutely 100 percent true,” said Beth, 41, who suffered broken bones in both hands and had to have plates and screws inserted following the crash. She had a fractured vertebra, her jawbone was dislocated and she had to have several teeth replaced.
“My dentist loves me,” Beth said.
Tuesday’s event—set for 2:15 p.m. at the State Patrol headquarters in Rochester—is meant to highlight the importance of motorcyclists wearing their helmets. Last month, one-third of the state’s deaths (seven) were motorcyclists, pushing the 2012 preliminary total to 15 rider deaths this year, compared to seven deaths at this time in 2011, according to a release about the award. Of these deaths, eight riders did not wear a helmet, three riders wore a helmet and four were unknown.
Minnesota law does not require licensed adult bikers to wear a helmet.
The Joneses crash occurred at about 9:30 p.m. on June 24, 2011, while the couple was heading to Rick’s 40th class reunion in Illinois. A deer ran in front of their 1,700-cc Suzuki, which they had purchased only a few days before.
“All of a sudden, here’s a deer looking up at me through the handlebars,” said Rick, 58, who has ridden motorcycles since the 1970s but had never previously been involved in a crash.
Said Beth: “The guy behind us said (the deer) was basically cut in half. It was pretty intense.”
While Rick had severe road rash from the incident, Beth was less fortunate—her helmet didn’t fit properly, resulting in more serious injuries.
“The number one thing about my story is: please wear your helmet,” she said. “The number two thing is: make sure you have it fitted properly.”
Beth—who only returned to work full time in March—said the initial report about the crash listed Rick as not wearing his helmet. It was in the ambulance with him, and when she was contacted about the award she told officials she would only accept it if Rick did, too.
Beth was transported via helicopter to a hospital in Rochester following the crash.
“So I had my lovely first helicopter ride,” she said. “I wish I remembered something from it.”
Beth was given a sedative, and first responders told her not to close her eyes.
“I said, ‘I’m closing my eyes to keep the blood out,’” she said.
Rick said he understands that motorcyclists want to feel the wind against their face, and acknowledged that there’s a coolness factor with not wearing a helmet.
“I’ve always worn a helmet,” he said.
Recalling the scuffmarks on her husband’s helmet, Beth said, “That could have been his head.”