People behind me were saying, ‘I think he’s dead’
Brooks Weyandt knew his efforts were in vain, even as he braced himself for impact.
Kicking the gas pedal, the 13-year-old boy tried to maneuver the dirt bike so that he could propel himself forward, but it was too late.
He was suspended in the air as his front tire struck the ground and his back tire swung upward. At that moment nothing else really mattered — not finishing practice or even trying to win the motocross race at the Tuscarawas County Fairgrounds in Dover.
“I can’t really remember anything after leaning forward and seeing the ground while I was in the air,” he said.
Although he couldn’t recall those next few moments, his mother couldn’t help replaying them in her mind. Sitting in the grandstand bleachers, Michele McCreery-Starkey looked on in horror as her child hit the ground with a thud.
“By the time I got down the bleachers, he just looked like a lifeless rag doll just flying about. He hit the ground and kept tumbling,” she said. “People behind me were saying, ‘I think he’s dead.’ ”
Her child was able to speak, but not well, as he drifted into silence. He was bleeding badly, his legs were a dark “eggplant purple” and mangled. His face was as white as a sheet.
He sat in an ambulance for nearly 20 minutes, said McCreery-Starkey, noting that she was told the ambulance had to wait until the race was complete.
Not normally prone to extreme anger, she said she screamed at the drivers to take her son to the hospital.
“I was irate,” she recalled.
Shortly afterward, Weyandt was life-flighted to Akron Children’s Hospital, where a team of 10 doctors checked for pulses in his feet and found none. Weyandt had suffered a traumatic injury, with internal bleeding and two broken femurs, his mother said. His head was pounding from the blood loss, she continued, and he was given a blood transfusion and taken into surgery for five hours while rods were placed in his legs.
It would be a week before he could go home, but McCreery-Starkey finally received good news.
Weyandt is an active athlete at Welty Middle School in New Philadelphia, playing football, baseball and alternating between wrestling and basketball. Because of his athleticism, he was making rapid progress. She also learned that the Leatt, or neck brace, he’d been wearing on Sept. 16, had saved her son from paralysis.
McCreery-Starkey said she never liked the idea of her son racing. It was a sport he and his father, Bruce, shared since the time he was 4. She is glad Weyandt’s father had made sure her son had the proper equipment, including the neck brace that few parents purchase because of the $400 cost.
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