Motorcyclist: ‘I am very, very blessed’

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Fort Walton Beach man survives crash thanks to a helmet and help from unknown good Samaritans.

JENNIE McKEON @JennieMnwfdn

FORT WALTON BEACH — After surviving a motorcycle crash on Feb. 8, there are two things Stephen Buck is thankful for.

His helmet and the good Samaritans that stopped to help him.

“I’m a huge advocate for the helmet,” he said. “When I was thrown from my bike, I fell and hit the pavement face-first. If I wasn’t wearing a helmet, I don’t think I’d be here.”

Earlier on the day of the crash, Buck rode his 2012 Yamaha FZA to work at Express Oil Change so he could show it to a potential buyer. After 10-plus years of riding motorcycles and no accidents, he was ready to put that hobby in the past.

“It was fun when I was younger, but I have a 2-year-old now …” Buck said.

On his way home from work that evening, Buck was traveling west in the inside lane of Green Acres Road on his motorcycle, approaching the intersection with Green Acres Avenue, when another vehicle traveling east on Green Acres Road, attempting to make a left turn onto Green Acres Avenue, stopped in Buck’s path of travel. According to a report from Florida Highway Patrol, Buck collided with the rear passenger door. He was thrown over the handlebars of the Yamaha and landed on the pavement.

“When I saw the vehicle pull in front of me, I yelled, ‘move, move, move,’ ” Buck said of the crash. “I knew there was no way out of this. I just closed my eyes and tried to go as limp as possible.”

The driver of the unknown vehicle — Buck said he guesses it was an early 2000s Mazda — left the scene of the crash.

Cars were zipping by Buck at 40 miles an hour as he was lying on the ground. He tried to stand up, but he couldn’t. At least three people did stop to assist Buck. When one good Samaritan tried to remove his helmet, he had to yell for them to stop. According to medical experts, if the motorcyclist is breathing, leave the helmet on to prevent further spinal injuries.

“I remember three different people stopping, one of them called an ambulance, one woman was yelling at traffic to slow down, a black gentleman got my phone from me and called my wife,” Buck recalled.

The crash left Buck with a broken pelvis, fractured kneecap, bruised ribs and sprained wrists. Doctors say it may be up to a year before he’s fully recovered. Being on bed rest means there have been moments he’s missed. That’s what hurts him most.

“The day after the crash was my daughter’s second birthday,” he said. “I didn’t have the physical strength to participate in her birthday party. I couldn’t give her a hug. The injuries will get better, but I’ll never be able to get those memories back.”

Thinking back to that day, Buck said he can’t stress enough the importance of wearing a helmet.

“They’re not the most comfortable things, they’re not the most stylish things, but if it was not for that helmet, I would not be here,” he said. “That helmet saved my life.”

Overall, Buck considers himself lucky. The crash could have been “a lot worse.” He doesn’t know the names of the people that came to his aid, but he would love to thank them in person one day.

“If I could lift my arms, I would give them all a hug,” he said. “If they hadn’t stopped, someone talking on their phone would’ve run me over in the next few minutes. I am very, very blessed.”

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