RUN OVER BY CAR ... TWICE! - Why Airman Lives to Tell About It
By Tim Barela and Tech. Sgt. Matthew Hannen, Torch Magazine
/ Published July 14, 2009
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Staff Sgt. Trevor Adams isn't claiming to be bulletproof, but he did manage to survive being run over by two different vehicles just split seconds apart.
Adams, a 22-year-old C-130 crew chief with the 58th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Kirtland Air Force Base had been on a motorcycle ride with eight friends June 22, 2008. While traveling on Interstate 25 just north of Albuquerque on a sunny midday, he hit a pothole on the edge of the road. The impact blew out his rear tire and caused him to lose control of the bike while zooming along at 70 mph.
Adams desperately tried to regain control of his bike by forcing himself to remain calm and not over-steer or overreact, tips he learned in the motorcycle safety course.
"Having tried to do all that was possible to regain control, I ended up in the dirt median separating the north and southbound interstate," Adams said. "I tumbled across the median and went into oncoming traffic travelling at 70 mph."
Tech. Sgt. Travis Knotts and his wife, Stephanie, who were both riding in the motorcycle group that day, watched in horror as Adams was thrown off the bike into the path of traffic.
"As he rolled, a mid-sized SUV ran over him," said Knotts, an assistant section chief and crew chief with the 550th Aircraft Maintenance Unit at Kirtland. "I thought he was dead."
The sport utility vehicle, which was traveling in the left lane, struck Adams with such force that it "pinballed" him into the right lane where a second vehicle struck him.
"I couldn't believe this was happening; I was scared," Adams said. "I had never been in an accident aside from a fender bender before. Once the SUV hit me, an incredible amount of pain started to overwhelm me. When the second car struck, the pain just magnified by 10."
Even though he was in agony, Adams knew he needed to get off the road before another vehicle could run him down.
"I couldn't move my legs, so I low-crawled to the side of the road using my arms," he said.
Stephanie, who is a registered nurse, immediately came to his aid, as did the rest of their group. Others also stopped to lend assistance, including a doctor.
They kept him calm and breathing normal until a helicopter could whisk him away to the University of New Mexico Hospital for emergency care.
While his motorcycle sustained minimal damage, Adams wasn't quite as lucky. He tore three ligaments in his right knee, had road rash along his entire right leg, and suffered nerve damage in his right foot.
But he still feels fortunate.
"Having a helmet on while getting run over by an SUV probably saved my life," he said. "My head had a lot of hard impacts, but my helmet absorbed them. The face shield on my helmet was shattered -- that could have been my face."
He also credited the protective padding and tough leather from his jacket, pants, gloves, and boots for preventing even more skin damage and possibly even broken bones.
Additionally, he touted the merits of riding in groups.
Traveling in groups not only allows other drivers to see you better, but if something does go wrong, you have several friends there "to take care of you," said Adams, who claims he is going to take a break from motorcycle riding to let his body heal and to give his family a break from the worry. But for those who do continue to ride, the sergeant recommends taking advantage of the motorcycle safety classes the Air Force offers.
Knotts said he believes that's good advice.
"No matter how good of a rider you think you are," Knotts said, "there is always something that can get the drop on you."