Heads 'N Tales Podcast

78: We Go Where Our Eyes Go, Michael O'Brien
Released May 29, 2017

On July 11th, 2001 Michael O'Brien was in New Mexico on a business trip. Michael considers this day his "last bad day."  As an avid cyclist, Michael brought his travel bike with him to exercise in lieu of using the hotel gym.  Michael remembers the hotel being in the middle of nowhere, but he scoped out a riding loop on a nearby service road that he could do some laps on before meetings began for the day.  After completing a few laps, Michael was struck head-on by a white Ford Explorer.  The individual who hit him worked at the hotel and had a revoked driver's license for a DUI.  Michael's injuries included a broken right shoulder, broken right femur and right tibia, a shattered left femur, which left bones popping out of his skin and lacerated the femoral artery.  The latter on the list of injuries made the situation life and death for Michael.  Pictures from the accident scene are below. Michael was wearing a helmet on that ride and he still has the helmet to this day.  Now the helmet serves as a reminder for why it is important to wear a helmet, because Michael believes it saved his life.  During this part of our conversation we got on a riding safety tangent where Michael talked about how it is important for Moms and Dads to set the example for their kids by also wearing helmets when they ride.  In general, most people are distracted in life these days, so do all you can to be visible.  This could mean wearing bright clothing, attaching lights to your bike and riding smart and defensively.  Michael urges bicyclists to model the way on the streets because sometimes they are part of the problem.  Although Micheal felt that he did everything right that day in terms of riding safely, he stressed the importance of riders having Road ID's, which he didn't have on the day of his accident. Road ID's are engraved bracelets where you list your identity information along with emergency contact information.  Because Michael didn't have a Road ID, he was known as "Trauma Patient Mango" after being airlifted from the scene of the accident. When Michael arrived at the hospital, doctors were unsure if he was going to survive, and if he did, they could't guarantee he'd be able to keep his leg.  The lacerated femoral artery caused his left leg to lack sufficient blood flow, but was told later that being in shape saved his life.