Following George Swain’s Recovery

UPDATE: See the report by RBA Tom Rosenbauer below.

A CaringBridge page has been set up for people interested in the progress of George Swain, of the Hudson Valley Randonneurs, who was hit from behind early in the Endless Mountains 1000K. George’s wife Jessie has detailed his many bone breaks — 24 — but also his miraculous escape from internal injury.

Consider setting up an account and leaving a note for George. He has a long way to go — weeks before he can put weight on his legs and arms. On the bright side, he is extremely fit and motivated to recover and get back on the bike. MG and I didn’t get the chance to meet George in person — it was only 26 miles into the ride and he was ahead of us. Still, we saw him being stabilized by paramedics, and feel connected to his terrible misfortune. We’re pulling for you George and for your family!

Here is the initial post from Jessie Swain:

On Thursday morning, 8/26, George began the Endless Mountain 1000k brevet in Pennsylvania. About 30 miles into the ride, he was hit from behind by a car. He was immediately taken to the trauma ward and checked out by an incredibly impressive team of trauma doctors.

After many tests, he had successful surgery to repair his right femur and left hip. Meanwhile, test results came back with excellent news. Although George broke 24 bones, some in multiple places, he had no internal bleeding, no organ damage and no neurological damage. We all agree that this is a miracle, and as awful as this is, George is very lucky. (And so are we). Doctors expect a 100% recovery.

On Saturday, George had another surgery to stabilize his left clavicle, also a success. He is resting in a private room under the care of orthopedists, trauma doctors, palliative care doctors, physical therapists, occupational therapists and excellent nurses.

George is coherent, optimistic, sleepy, in pain, fighting hard, funny and often craves good coffee. Although there is not even a Starbuck’s in Bethlehem, my sister, Brooke, brought him a coffee maker that we can use in his room with some excellent, black, strong java. She is our dream come true.

At this point, George has the use of his right arm (despite his broken shoulder blade on that side). Because of his broken bones, he cannot bear weight on either of his arms. If his arms worked, he would be able to stand on his right leg despite the recent surgery there. But, he will not be able to bear weight at all on his left leg for 6-8 weeks. The ball in his hip socket needs to stay in alignment so that the blood flows and keeps the ball alive. If the ball dies, he will need a hip replacement. His legs are hooked up to mechanical squeezers, which massage his calves intermittently to keep the vascular system working. He is already starting with physical/occupational therapy, but full rehab cannot begin until he can bear weight on his arms so that he can stand up on his right leg. He has a long road ahead, but will recover and is dreaming of getting back on his bike.

We are waiting to be discharged, probably this week. Before leaving, he needs to switch from IV pain medication to pills, get more blood work done, and be evaluated more by the team of physical and occupational therapists. A case manager will then help us find a place to transfer him closer to home.

RBA Tom Rosenbauer posted this comment about the police report in George’s collision, showing he did not contribute to the accident.

Ed,

Thanks for posting this info, since many randonneurs may not have seen my initial report posted here:
http://em1240k.blogspot.com/2010/08/last-call-rba-wants-to-get.html

Yesterday, I went to the police station to look at a copy of the police report. Here are some of the notes that I took (since I wasn’t allowed to take a copy with me):

The accident happened at 5:44 AM — (this is still pretty early for rush hour, and most of the commuters would be traveling in the other direction anyway. It was still dark, so the riders would’ve been especially visible. The report notes that George had reflectors and lights and helmet).

The driver was a male, ~23 years old.

The driver action listed was: “Driver was distracted” and was cited for VC3714: “Careless driving”. For George’s action: “No Contributing action” was listed, which would appear to place 100% of the blame on the driver. Confirming this, the prime factor of the crash was “Driver Action #1″ and the driver action listed was “Driver was distracted”.

There is a section on the report for environmental/road potential factors and “none” was listed for that. The road was straight and unobstructed in a 45 MPH zone, and there were no weather factors listed either.

In the written report section, the officer wrote:
“This crash occurred as unit #1 & #2 were traveling north on SR 3017 / Howertown Rd. #1 failed to observe #2 traveling directly in front of him. #1 struck #2 in the rear, causing #2 to fall and sustain a broken femur. #1 sustained minor scratches on the hood while #2 was destroyed…#1 related he was traveling northbound on SR 3017. #1 related he looked down at his radio to select a new radio station. Upon looking back at the roadway, #1 related he observed #2 directly in front of him. #1 related he attempted to swerve to avoid #2, but could not in time. #1 related he then struck #2.

…This is certainly one of the worst types of accident imaginable — and a sobering thought is that getting hit by a distracted driver can happen to any of us, at any time, on any road.

-Tom Rosenbauer
Eastern PA RBA

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4 thoughts on “Following George Swain’s Recovery

  1. Ed,

    Thanks for posting this info, since many randonneurs may not have seen my initial report posted here:
    http://em1240k.blogspot.com/2010/08/last-call-rba-wants-to-get.html

    Yesterday, I went to the police station to look at a copy of the police report. Here are some of the notes that I took (since I wasn’t allowed to take a copy with me):

    The accident happened at 5:44 AM — (this is still pretty early for rush hour, and most of the commuters would be traveling in the other direction anyway. It was still dark, so the riders would’ve been especially visible. The report notes that George had reflectors and lights and helmet).

    The driver was a male, ~23 years old.

    The driver action listed was: “Driver was distracted” and was cited for VC3714: “Careless driving”. For George’s action: “No Contributing action” was listed, which would appear to place 100% of the blame on the driver. Confirming this, the prime factor of the crash was “Driver Action #1″ and the driver action listed was “Driver was distracted”.

    There is a section on the report for environmental/road potential factors and “none” was listed for that. The road was straight and unobstructed in a 45 MPH zone, and there were no weather factors listed either.

    In the written report section, the officer wrote:
    “This crash occurred as unit #1 & #2 were traveling north on SR 3017 / Howertown Rd. #1 failed to observe #2 traveling directly in front of him. #1 struck #2 in the rear, causing #2 to fall and sustain a broken femur. #1 sustained minor scratches on the hood while #2 was destroyed…#1 related he was traveling northbound on SR 3017. #1 related he looked down at his radio to select a new radio station. Upon looking back at the roadway, #1 related he observed #2 directly in front of him. #1 related he attempted to swerve to avoid #2, but could not in time. #1 related he then struck #2.

    …This is certainly one of the worst types of accident imaginable — and a sobering thought is that getting hit by a distracted driver can happen to any of us, at any time, on any road.

    -Tom Rosenbauer
    Eastern PA RBA

  2. I second Tom’s comments. I think we can all as cyclists imagine ourselves in a similar situation and there probably isn’t much that George or anyone else on a bike could do to avoid it. The real solutions, in my opinion, are (1) prosecuting drivers who are careless and hit pedestrians and cyclists (which apparently is happening with the motorist here) and (2) educating drivers, preferably as part of the driver’s license examination and with road signs and public service announcements on radio and TV, about sharing the road with cyclists.

    I am so thankful that George appears to be on his way to a full recovery. I know that he is a tough rider and he’ll prove to be equally tough in his convalescence.

    Let’s all be careful out there.

  3. We are thinking good thoughts for your full recovery and looking foward to seeing you on Block Island this Fall. All our love, Gasner Family

  4. Deb, Devin and I are just now learning of George’s awful accident in August!!!
    I hope George’s is getting back to 100% at this point, as Jessie’s notes from September would suggest a good prognosis. Good thing my fellow bicyclist was fit and strong!
    Love,
    TIm Deb and Devin

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