Auto Accident Leaves Cyclist with Spinal Cord Injury

Earlier this month, a cyclist suffered catastrophic injuries after being struck by a wrong-way driver on Fiesta Island, according to a recent story from NBC San Diego.  Other riders in San Diego’s cycling community explained that the victimDSCN1797, Juan Carlos Vinolo, 49, sustained serious injuries after pushing another cyclist out of the way of the oncoming vehicle.  The car accident left Vinolo paralyzed with a severe spinal cord injury.

Wrong-Way DUI Driver Seriously Injures Bicyclists

Vinolo was riding with about thirty other cyclists, members of the San Diego Bicycle Club.  Vinolo’s wife, Emma Irarragorri, told NBC San Diego her husband “is always obsessed with safety when he rides his bicycle.”  When her husband saw the oncoming car, he “instinctively pushed the leader out of harm’s way,” saving that cyclist’s life but suffering serious injuries in the bicycle accident.

The auto accident caused serious injuries to other members of the San Diego Bicycle Club as well.  According to the article, the “impact of the crash shattered the car’s windshield and sent at least 10 cyclists to the hospital with injuries ranging from facial cuts to bruised ribs.”  Vinolo, however, was the most seriously injured of anyone on the group.  His injuries included two punctured lungs, broken ribs, a broken left clavicle, dislocated left shoulder, loss of one kidney, spleen laceration, and six broken vertebrae.

According to one of the cycling teammates, Logan Bass, several cyclists saw the car approaching and attempted to get out of the way.  Bass remembers seeing Vinolo on top of the car, and another cyclist on the car’s windshield.  Bass sustained a contusion to his ribs and a cut on his foot.  Although he spent two days in the hospital, he and the other cyclists are most concerned about Vinolo.

Police arrested and charged the vehicle’s driver, Theresa Lynn Owens, 49, with driving under the influence and possession of a controlled substance.

Bicycle-Related Injuries: Facts and Statistics

How often do bicycle accidents occur?  In general, only about 1 percent of all trips taken in our country are on bicycle. Yet cyclists face a much higher risk of crash-related injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Some important facts about bicycle crashes:

  • In 2010, about 800 bicyclists sustained fatal injuries in collisions;
  • About 515,000 emergency room visits take place each year due to bicycle-related injuries;
  • On average, serious and fatal crash-related injuries result in medical costs and productivity losses of about $5 billion annually.

Who is at risk in a serious or fatal bicycle accident?  Risk factors include:

  • Age: Adolescents between the ages of 15-24 and adults aged 45 and older are at the highest risk of a bicycle accident fatality.  The highest rate of nonfatal bicycle-related injuries occurs among children under the age of 15.  In fact, about 60 percent of all bicycle-related injuries involve children under the age of 15.
  • Sex: The CDC reports that males are “much more likely to be killed or injured” in a bicycle-related accident than are female cyclists.
  • Area: Urban areas are much more dangerous for bicyclists, particularly at non-intersection locations.

Even nonfatal bicycle accidents can result in catastrophic injuries, including spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries.  If you or a loved one have sustained injuries in a bicycle accident or traffic collision, it is important to discuss your case with a San Diego accident lawyer.  We can help you to seek compensation for your injuries.

Photo Credit: pippalou via morgueFile

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