The following letter is from Melissa Rose, who was involved in a cycling accident in 2017, the result of sand and other debris on the bike lane along Auberry Road. Melissa Rose and David Bray won a lawsuit against Fresno County, suing because of the hazardous conditions, which apparently had accumulated over a nine month period, since the last time the County cleared the bike lane.
A brief writeup was in the Fresno Bee, on February 22, 2019. The Bee story can be found HERE.
Melissa details her story below.
February 23, 2019
I don't know how to explain all that had happened to me during my accident. It began at about 9:00 am on Sunday, March 19, 2017... My dad and I had planned to ride up to Prather, and by chance met up with some friends at the Millerton store.
We headed up Auberry Rd. just past Old Millerton Rd. I know I was riding with some excellent cyclists, who took all of the precautionary measures to keep us safe, but it is a challenge to stay on your bicycle at 20+ mph when you come across a mound of sand that engulfs the bike lane for over 30 yards. Sand that possibly was washed into the road, but that had been there long enough to begin to grow weeds and grass and take on the overgrowth from the side of the road.
When my tires hit the edge of the sand, I immediately knew I had lost traction with the road but I didn't panic. Saying "whoa.. whoa.. whoa..," I stayed up on my bike for another ten yards before I skid out towards the road. Tucked on the road not even a moment to think, I thought I heard someone yell "car!" and I was simultaneously struck by a loud BAM. The bam ended with a quick crunch as the car ran over my bike and I found myself hurling through the air and rolling in a flurry of pain, light, screaming, blinking eyelids, and I immediately knew I was okay because I was alive.
When my rolling ceased, I saw my left arm flopping around and I surreally knew it was broken as my mind flashed back to the feeling I had when my legs were still paralyzed from a spinal block following my second cesarean and the nurses acted like puppeteers moving my legs from the operation table to the gurney and I was the puppet that was aware of the movement, but had to sit back and watch as if I was in the audience watching a puppet show because I could not feel or believe that they were my legs.
After this moment passed, I collected my left wrist with my good hand and pinned it to my body and naturally hip heisted over into a sit out position like I had practiced countless times during my wrestling years, a lifetime ago. I announced that my arm was broken and to call 911. Several people were already in the process as they were demonstrating their frustration with poor cell phone reception.
Papa, as I lovingly call my father, came to my side to assess the damage and asked if he could pick me up to move me away from the road. Initially, I was afraid it would hurt too much but then I agreed, and he effortlessly scooped me up, gently, in his embrace. I shared that I thought my husband, Jordan, would be upset but asked him to call and let him know what happened. Darren approached and gave me a gel and Mark gave me the closest water he could find.
Between the arrival of the fire department and multiple phone calls for help, I heard Papa tell Jordan about this traumatic accident in a calm manner. I know not too many details were shared but there weren't many details that were known. I was in an accident. I was okay. I think I broke my arm. I talked to Jordan briefly and joked that at least I could still wipe myself. I told him I loved him and had to go. At this point I heard Dave say he broke his right hand and was thankful he was left handed. I replied saying we should high five because I am right handed. Mark spoke to his wife on the phone and made arrangements to take my totaled bike safely to his house. He explained that we cyclists take care of each other and that we would be in contact through Darren or on Strava, attempting to make me feel assured that it would be okay.
The firemen surrounded me, asked a lot of questions and inspected my injuries. They pulled my glove off carefully and then cut my arm band and shirt to expose my arm and shoulder. They splinted it with cardboard and gauze before the paramedics arrived. They emptied my pockets on my back as they transferred me to the stretcher and tossed my mangled banana onto the embankment.
I caught a glimpse of the sheriff before the doors to the ambulance closed shut. Joseph, "Joey" as he preferred, asked me questions and explained everything. He had to kneel on the stretcher to brace himself through the winding road as he yelled "sharps out" to signal that he was beginning to do my IV. I looked out the side window at the golden meadow to briefly distract myself from the poke of the needle. I jokingly said I didn't want to pass out even though I typically like to watch. As he fumbled with the pain meds I looked down at my hands and realized the cuticles of my left hand were turning blue. I relayed the information and we changed course to CRMC with lights and sirens. I called Jordan to let him know about the update and I lost reception after he heard "code 3" and "my fingers are blue." I knew exactly where we were as we continued to head down Auberry Rd.
I looked out the window and watched cyclists going up and down the road, quickly praying for their safety. Joey dropped the first shot of fentanyl and frustration crept in on him. I finally got through to Jordan and got to further explain the situation. Joey inserted the pain medication and a wave of relaxation flooded through me. I told Jordan I was afraid I would fall asleep so I would see him at the hospital. I talked about random things... my kids, my husband, my job, how much I loved it, etc. I kept talking about random things until I recognized the 180/168 overpass and as we approached the freeway exit, tears streamed down my face because during a moment of silence I had my first (of many) flashback of what had occurred.
I felt sad, disbelief, upset, disappointed, and then ultimately thankful for my life. We pulled into the ER where Jordan stood as the doors opened. He chatted with the paramedic and kissed me before I was whisked into the trauma center where a team of doctors and nurses worked in unison to inspect the damage, asked me repeated questions about myself and my accident. I tried to joke when I could and the staff were all respectful and treated me kindly. Lisa took my first set of X-rays and then I was able to see Jordan for a little bit.
The doctor walked in and started telling us the results and explained that my humerus was broken and that there were different options, but they wanted to set it in place first. Jordan was kicked out for the procedure and they began with a new dose of pain meds. At first, two men wrestled with my arm to pull the bones apart and it felt as if they held it for an eternity. I tried counting my breaths, squeezing the nurses hand gently because I didn't want to hurt her. I stuck my right arm out for the next dose of pain meds and they squeezed and wrestled with my arm some more; by this time this wrestling match was 3 men vs a 117 lb female. I arched, breathed, screamed, got more pain meds, breathed, tapped my feet, squeezed cautiously, and finally it was over after about 20-30 minutes. My arm was warm from the plaster of the splint and my breathing slowed. Lisa did more X-rays and commented on how well I was doing. More pain meds, more X-rays, crying off and on, phone calls and texts, ultrasounds to check for internal bleeding and finally some food before I was released to go home a little after 5:00.
After processing all of this, I have little thoughts here and there... one of them recently has been about the driver. They hit me, pulled over, and then drove off. I may never be able to ask them or hear their side of the story. I hope and want to believe that they were able to swerve before they hit me and that is what saved my life. I want to thank them, that if they were able to react with a split-second in a way that ultimately let me go home practically unscathed because a broken bone is a mere blemish compared to what most people have to endure when they are hit by a car going 50-60mph. I am one of the fortunate ones to be able to walk away and talk about it and part of me wants to be able to be a voice for those who cannot speak anymore.
In addition, the other injured cyclist and I have endured almost 2 long years of planning and preparing for a trial that was an uphill battle. This, of course, lended to a resurgence of flashbacks and anxiety related to the accident. Ultimately, our amazing attorneys put on a good case and Fresno County was found liable for this horrific event. I am glad that I was here to witness it, and that my family didn’t have to endure this as a wrongful death case. Moving forward, I hope that this will increase safety and awareness for all motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians out there.
For those of you who take the time to read this, thank you. Stay safe, ride strong, and enjoy every moment.
By Melissa Rose