Publisher’s note: Back in July 2010, southeast Portland resident Karl Moritz suffered a harrowing crash while riding through Ladd’s Addition. It remains unclear what happened in the seconds before Karl collided head-on with a car traveling in the opposition direction; but what is clear is that the crash changed his life forever. Karl sustained many severe injuries and was in a coma for three weeks.
Many people have written to us wondering what happened to Karl. We’ve kept in touch with his wife Staci, who tells us that his recovery is, “coming along well.” “The support we felt from the biking community last summer was truly amazing,” she wrote via email a few days ago. Staci also wanted to share Karl’s story, written by Karl himself. “Writing the update for your blog was important to his recovery, emotionally and psychologically,” Staci wrote us, “He worked really hard on it.”
Read Karl’s story below…
(Photos: Moritz Family)
Some of you may remember me from last summer. My story was carried in this blog, as well as on the evening news. On June 29, 2010, I was bike-commuting home from Beaverton to Hawthorne when, while riding through Ladd’s Addition, I was hit head-on by a car and dragged underneath for thirty feet. I sustained severe injuries, lost consciousness at the scene and was not expected to live. Survive I did, and I am delighted to have this opportunity to write a bit about the events of that day and my journey to recovery.
I would first like to thank my wife, Staci, and our three boys. Words cannot express my happiness to still be here with them. The accident obviously affected me, but also affected my family dynamics. My three boys do not have their ‘Papa’ in the same capacity as before and the effects of my accident have reverberated throughout my relationships. We are repairing what was lost with lots of love, dedication and hard work. I would also like to thank my extended family and all the people who have helped my family and me throughout this horrific experience, including the emergency response team, police, doctors, nurses, therapists, Nike (my employer), friends and kind strangers. Thank you to all of my visitors. It means so much to me to have friends like you.
“When I finally awoke from the coma and was able to speak, I remember asking “Why am I in the hospital”? My Nurse told me I was in a bicycle accident. I could not believe it.”
I would like to give you a little history on my bike riding experience. For the past fifteen years I have been commuting to and from work at an average of thirty to fifty miles every day, pending route. I also try to fit into my schedule as many area century rides as I can. This accident was the first accident I have EVER been involved in. I practice safe bicycle riding. I always wear my helmet, bike shoes (worn at correct tension) and appropriate clothes. My bike has front and rear safety lights. My helmet has a ‘bike type’ rear view mirror. After each and every ride, I review all aspects of my bike for correct safety and make adjustments as needed. If my bike is not in top riding condition, I will not ride it! I have a neighbor who owns a bike shop. If I ever have a question, he is always happy to advise and help.
The only witness to the accident was the driver himself who, according to the police report, was a male in his early twenties. He stated that I was headed south on SE Ladd Ave., when my bike jerked and turned to the left and I fell off. At this time, I can neither confirm nor deny this accounting of events. Down on the street, I started to sit up when the driver apparently did not have time to stop or to turn out of the way. There were no other moving cars in either direction and I was by myself and not passing another bicyclist. At impact (approx. 20-25 mph) my helmet and shoes were knocked off my body. I truly believe that my helmet saved my life. So, if you ride a bike, wear your helmet! The car drove over me and dragged me underneath for 30 feet. After stopping, the driver got out and went back to his car to check on me, then called 911. I am sure he was horrified at my condition.
“Though many of my injuries have healed, there are others that may not. I will never be the same… I can’t complain. I can’t wait to get back to work and on my bike! I have many miles to catch up on!
I was then taken to OHSU hospital in an unresponsive state. I was comatose for 3 weeks with 6 fractures to my spine, 2 factures to skull, 3 fractures to my right Leg and I had 13 titanium screens to hold my pelvis together. My wife was told to prepare herself for my death. How would she raise three little boys under the age of seven alone?
When I finally awoke from the coma and was able to speak, I remember asking “Why am I in the hospital”? My Nurse told me I was in a bicycle accident. I could not believe it; I thought that I always rode so safely. My closest friends from college days, Dorian, John and Brian came out to see me. Dorian is also an avid bicyclist and he picked up my bike from the Police station and told me that my bike was in excellent condition. The Police investigation of ‘the bike’, found no fault in the bike and its working components. The Chain did not come off, the tires had correct air pressure, the wheels were true, brake pads with correct braking surface area and the front fork and steering with correct tension (no play).
I was in three different Hospitals over three months, I had to get around in a wheelchair until doctors approved that my spine had healed enough for me stand up and bear weight. Following a final CT of my spine, I was approved to walk with the use of a cane, three weeks prior to my release. My therapist helped me to re-learn how to walk and climb stars with a cain. Now I am walking four to five sets of three neighborhood blocks at a time, every day, without a cane. I have full mobility with no pain. It’s true, if you don’t use a muscle they will get weak. I am trying to get back my overall strength by doing as much as possible as I can to get back to the fit person as I was prior. I am still working with a speech therapist, as re-learning how to speak has been the most difficult part of my therapy. It’s been a long ‘road’ back to recovery, just taking every day as it comes and I thought that recovery would happen a lot faster. Though many of my injuries have healed, there are others that may not. I will never be the same. However, considering the extent and severity of my injuries, I can’t complain. I can’t wait to get back to work and on my bike! I have many miles to catch up on!
And I will!!!
Karl “Kajomo” Moritz
Thanks for sharing your experience with us Karl. We are all pulling for your recovery.