Archive for Monday, June 29, 2009

Lawrence man, 72, suffers critical injuries in motorcycle crash southwest of Lawrence

A 52-year-old Lawrence man was flown by helicopter ambulance to Kansas University Hospital in Kansas City, Kan., with critical injuries after an accident southwest of town.

June 29, 2009, 2:38 p.m. Updated June 29, 2009, 3:16 p.m.


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A Lawrence man was hospitalized with a serious head injury on Monday afternoon, after losing control of his motorcycle near the Clinton Lake Dam.

Chas McElhinney, 72, was flown by helicopter ambulance to Kansas University Hospital in Kansas City, Kan., with critical injuries after the accident, at east 1000 Road and County Road 458. The man was not wearing a helmet, said Sgt. Steve Lewis, Douglas County Sheriff's spokesman.

"He lost control for unknown reasons," Lewis said. "He does not remember what happened.”

McElhinney was riding south on County Road 458, past Wakarusa School, when he crashed about 1:30 p.m. He was thrown from the motorcycle and hit his head on the pavement, said Lewis.

A previous version of this story had an incorrect age for McElhinney.


gsxr600 8 years, 11 months ago

Wonder how he would've turned out had he had a helmet on.

applejuice 8 years, 11 months ago

Helmets should be mandatory, just like seat belts in a car!

KaraGourley 8 years, 11 months ago

i ride a harley and i prefer to wear a helmet because i feel more comfortable but honestly if i really think about it... i dont think it would do me a whole lot of good if i were going 50-70 down a highway and we crashed. just my opinion.....

gsxr600 8 years, 11 months ago

Right. Leathers and full gear + a helmet could save your life. Unfortunately when I see motorcyclists (of all kinds) out on the road, 95% aren't wearing gear. It varies from the squid on the sport bike in a t-shirt, no helmet, and shorts to the cruisers with no helmets (or bowl helmets that offer no protection), no armor padding, etc.

As much as I disapprove of this, I firmly believe people should have the choice to wear what they want. I don't think seatbelts should be mandatory either. In some instances, a belt can do more harm than good. I always utilize a belt and a helmet whenever I'm traveling, but that's because I try to be responsible and don't really want to die all that quick.

Just my 2 cents.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 11 months ago

gsxr600, you are so right. I remember way, way back in the day in SoCal when I would ride on the back of a Harley in short shorts, tee, and bare feet. I shudder to think of it now. Maybe some people can't afford full leathers or just think they are too hot to wear in this head. I know someone who had such a head injury and he never fully recovered from it.

KEITHMILES05 8 years, 11 months ago

Very few people on cycles now wear helmets. That is just so dumb of them.

yankeevet 8 years, 11 months ago

Motorcycles;...........nothing but death machines............

RoeDapple 8 years, 11 months ago

Had a friend who wanted a motorcycle many years ago. His father told him to be sure to get the shipping crate so they would have something to bury him in...............

So he would borrow mine when he wanted to ride...........

muddfoot55 8 years, 11 months ago

Helmets save just enough to ID them by their dental records...sorry, had to go there.

gsxr600 8 years, 11 months ago

A motorcycle doesn't kill anybody. It's the fault of the rider (drinking, inexperience) and the unforeseeable events (sand, that DAMN tar patching all over Lawrence, nails in the road, etc) that trigger accidents. Same for cars.

Hoots 8 years, 11 months ago

Gsxr600...I guess I'm not the only one who hates all the tar around town and in the county. That stuff is dangerous for anything on two wheels. It's almost got me more than once on my motorcyle and my bicycle. I always wear a helmet.

I did a research paper years ago and helmets do save lives. The brain is by far the part of the body that is least likely to recover from trauma. That full coverage also protects you from bug and gravel strikes at 80 mph. If you've ever been hit by a bug even at 50 it hurts. People can do what they want but I'll keep my helmet on.

LA_Ex 8 years, 11 months ago

Those tar snakes are the worst. Scares the crap out of me every time my front tire hits one. The sun hits it, heats it back up and it's like riding on ice.

Gixxer, I don't think I've ever heard of a case where a seat belt did more harm than good, but I agree with you on everything else you said.

Hopefully the rider comes out okay.

LA_Ex 8 years, 11 months ago

One more exception, I think helmets should be mandatory.

LA_Ex 8 years, 11 months ago

Pretty selfish. You go down and get a head injury doesn't affect just you. It affects your family, friends, and every person who has to pay more for health insurance because you've just contributed to the raising cost of health insurance. I know it's greedy of the insurance companies, but lets face it, if they have to pay more so do the subscribers.

Sometimes the government needs to step in when the citizens lack the common sense to do whats right.

SoupBone 8 years, 11 months ago

Every time I get on my motorcycle, I understand that anything COULD happen.

Hopefully all the pro-nanny-law folks realize that the same is true every time they get in their car, every time they cross the street, every time they visit the swimming pool, every time they load their firearm.

Accidents do happen.

Usually, I choose NOT to wear a helmet. Anything that impedes my hearing and/or vision seems to me like a bad trade-off. It is what is IN my head, not what is ON my head, that is more likely to protect me.

I've logged somewhere between 75K and 100K miles (incident free) on two wheels in my life and I realize that doesn't guarantee me safe passage today on my way home, but I am going to make my own decisions about how I protect myself, thank you very much.

Seems like it's only the non-riders who think they know what is best?

mom_of_three 8 years, 11 months ago

My firefighter cousin in law has told enough stories, and when he says wear a helmet, i would wear a helmet.

gphawk89 8 years, 11 months ago

OK, I don't know the stats but I'll ask these questions again:

How many motorcyclists per year lose their lives or are permanently disabled in a cycle accident because of a head injury that could have been prevented by wearing a helmet?

Now, how many motorists (automobile drivers or passengers) per year lose their lives or are permanently disabled in an auto accident because of a head injury that could have been prevented by wearing a helmet?

I'll bet the answer to the second question is much greater than the answer to the first question.

So why don't we make helmets mandatory when driving a car? And to the non-motorcycle-riding, pro-helmet crowd: why don't you wear a helmet while driving your car? Hypocrites...

LA_Ex 8 years, 11 months ago

Been riding for over 25 years. I wear a full face helmet and my hearing is better due to reduced wind noise. I did loose some peripheral vision, I found I can fix that problem by turning my head. Kind of like checking your side mirrors in a car. There are more expensive helmets out there that don't restrict peripheral vision at all if it's that big of a problem for the rider.

NHTSA estimates that 37% of the fatalities of non-helmeted riders may have survived if they had been wearing a helmet. Head injuries are the most expensive of motorcycle related injuries. I've yet to have heard a good argument for not wearing a helmet.

Average cost of a brain injury victim that survives is $171,000 in the first year and $300,000 for long term care.

Typically insurance picks up 66% of the cost, then 22% is paid by public funds and the remaining 12% by other sources (ie. your wallet). Taxpayers may be picking up a large share since it's estimated 46% of un-helmeted riders don't have insurance.

But like it was said, this is America. And in America we typically have the right to make our own decisions.... no matter how stupid they are.

Sources are pretty easy to find, just do a Google search. That's what I did.

LA_Ex 8 years, 11 months ago

I can answer the car/helmet question pretty easily. The bulk of automobile fatalities happen because the occupant wasn't wearing a seat belt. No doubt that if that same occupant had decided to wear a helmet without the seatbelt he/she may have fared better. So yes...if you are going to drive without a seat belt, at least wear a helmet. If that occupant had worn a seat belt, they would have fared better.

Motorcycles account for only 2% of the vehicles on the road so naturally there are going to be more crashes involving a car, truck or SUV. Amazingly, out of all those crashes, the fatalities are lower when compared to motorcycles when kept in perspective.

daschie88 8 years, 11 months ago

LA_Ex - If hit at the right angle, then yes, seat belts can be dangerous. I was T-boned at 70 mph and because I'm so short and the seat belt goes across my neck, had i been wearing one it would have sliced my neck open and I likely would have lost an insane amount of blood. However, the chances of that happening again are probably pretty slim, thus I always wear one now.

LA_Ex 8 years, 11 months ago

That's why almost all seat belts in modern cars have height adjustments on them.

Seems like I remember reading an article about shorter drivers and improperly worn seat belts about 15 years ago. I think it said dealers have been able to retrofit seat belts to fit shorter drivers.

Joe Hyde 8 years, 11 months ago

Assuming the news story is complete and correct (by listing Mr. McIlhinney's head strike against the roadway as the only injury he suffered) there is little reason to doubt that he'd have walked away from this accident needing only a couple of aspirin for sore muscles..if he had been wearing a motorcycle helmet.

I sure hope he comes out of this okay, with no lasting loss of mental function. I hope, in other words, that his head strike didn't result in a traumatic brain injury, one of the most fearsome injuries there is.

gccs14r 8 years, 10 months ago

This isn't 1973. Full-face helmets have a much larger eye opening now, so peripheral vision isn't compromised. Still need earplugs to cut the wind blast, though. Earplugs make it easier to hear traffic, too.

The Honda Goldwing has an airbag option.

It used to be illegal to wear a helmet in an automobile. I don't know if it still is.

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