Tracy’s Hero

Good morning, I’ve decided to share a post this morning from the young man who found Tracy on the side of the road. His name is Mike Hermanovsky and he cared for Tracy until the ambulance arrived.

He’s studying in Waterloo at Wilfrid Laurier University and we tracked Mike down through friends of friends. Lesley reached out to him and he graciously came to Toronto a week or so ago to talk to our family. As Lesley said to him that day, “Mike you are a hero.”

He had the courage to stop when others would have simply driven by. As it turns out, Mike is in the kinesiology program at WLU and is one of Canada’s top downhill mountain bikers. He was at Blue Mountain that day shuttling Mountain Bikers up the escarpment. Tracy couldn’t have been in better hands.

Mike is now part of our family and we are so very grateful to him…

He originally posted this to FaceBook shortly after Tracy’s accident.

It was probably my 4th or 5th trip up the hill and I was heading back down to possibly pick up another group of guys. Like usual I put Rob’s truck in second gear so I wouldn’t fly down the road or have to ride the brakes and burn them out. I drove most of the way down the hill and noticed something a little strange as I drove closer to the final left hand turn on Scenic Caves road. In front of me was a white Acura parked on the left side of the road with its 4 ways on as three Asian dudes stood on the right side looking into the ditch, one was on a cell phone. I rolled by slowly and looked carefully to my right and noticed a narrow skid mark dug into the gravel for about 30 feet. As I rolled further I noticed a woman lying on the other side of the ditch curled up like a small child with her head on the down slope facing the ditch. I kept rolling through and thought about how embarrassing it must be when roadies crash since there are always people around to see it happen, and they always look so awkward when they go down. I took another quick look at the lady and kept rolling by; I was still focused on helping my teammates get to the top of the hill.

Once I passed the roadie, I didn’t speed up, but rather I kept rolling slowly, thinking, wondering. From the two times I looked at her she hadn’t moved or budged an inch. I know when I crash I usually bitch and moan or hop and move around, something seemed weird this time. Also, the three men were just standing there, looking at her, nobody was with her, talking to her, asking her questions, seeing if she needed help. Something was wrong, really wrong, so I turned Rob’s truck into a driveway on the left side of the road, and drove back up the hill. As I came closer I started to run through scenarios in my head. Did she get run off the road? Was she just going too fast? Or did her brakes randomly happen to fail? I parked the truck on the downhill side of the road, half on the gravel, half on the road to block traffic. I turned on the four ways and stepped out of the truck.

It was only now that I really understood what had happened. The spot where the skid marks started was roughly 60 feet back from where the lady now lay still. She had ridden 30 feet on the soft shoulder of the road, hit the bank of the ditch and slid/rolled for another 25-30 feet to where she came to a stop. Immediately after stepping out of the truck I asked the three men if they had called an ambulance and one said “yes it should be about 10 minutes.” It had been at least a minute since I last saw them, they still hadn’t gone up to her. The woman lay silent with her head facing the ditch, the bank was steep so her head was below the level of her feet. Her face and neck were red and purple in some spots, the veins on her head bulged slightly. I assumed that she had been lying there for a couple of minutes. I stepped across the waterlogged ditch and knelt down by her head. She was on her side facing towards the top of the hill so I did the best I could to stabilize her head and neck.

She was breathing, she was conscious, it made me happy. I asked her what her name was, she replied with a faint yet audible “Tracy.” She was around 35 to 40 years old, she seem frustrated that I made her talk. I asked her what her last name was, she paused, her breathing was laboured and shallow. She had forgotten I assumed, but after a short wait she said “Dorch.” From that point on I said her first name every time I asked her a question so that I didn’t forget it, just in case she did later. Tracy clearly hit her head, her helmet was cracked and sitting in front of her face. The buckle, still clipped together rested on her dusty lips, I moved it. I told her my name and that I was there to help her. Each time I said anything to her, her response was “Can you please move my head, I can’t breathe.” This statement was oddly ironic, she was talking, she could breathe. I explained to her that we would both face serious risks if I tried to move her head. The ambulance still hadn’t arrived. As I waited with Tracy asking her questions I had some time to notice the half dozen small saplings that her speeding body had flattened.

I told her that I was going to feel her spine and that she should tell me when she feels pain. From T12 to T1 she seemed fine. I moved up towards her neck, looked closely, and didn’t bother to check by touching. It was clear that it was very important that I needed to make sure that her head, neck, and body didn’t move. What I saw when I looked at the back of her neck was not normal and any movement could make it worse. Again she begged me to lift her head so she could “breathe.” Her hands were up against her face so she asked me if I could move them for her. I thought this was an odd question, but didn’t see an issue with moving her hands slightly so they wouldn’t be so close to her mouth. I held her hand, moved it to the ground and placed it down gently, it was limp. The ambulance still hadn’t arrived.

I asked the men some more questions, confirming that an ambulance was coming, how long ago they called, and made sure they gave the right directions. “Who are you,” she asked. Again I told her my name and why I was there. I decided to pinch the back of her arm to see if she had possible nerve damage. I caught a good amount of skin between my two small nails and pinched as hard as I could. I asked if it hurt, no response. At this point I still hadn’t seen her move her legs or hands on her own. Still no Ambulance, but I could hear the sirens in the distance. My knees and calves were getting sore from squatting but I knew I couldn’t move.

The ambulance finally arrived and it seemed like forever before they brought the stretcher over to the ditch. By the time I got the chance to turn around and see the road there were 2 ambulances and 4 police cruisers strategically placed around the scene. A paramedic slid his hands over mine and took my spot holding Tracy’s head. I proceeded to give the paramedics all the information that I could and then crawled out of the ditch. As I stood up my calves started to cramp and I felt a sharp pain in my right knee, I had been kneeling on my stitches. I started talking to one of the police officers, gave her my information, and told her everything I knew about the situation. When I was done, the paramedics asked me for my help lifting Tracy onto the backboard and so I went back over the ditch. I held her feet as we lifted in a swift yet smooth motion. She now lay flat on her back on the bright yellow board. We began to strap her in but in the process her arm slipped off the side and dangled straight down, she still could not move it. We carried her across the ditch and onto the stretcher, it had been 20 minutes since I first laid my hands on her head.

The Paramedics wheeled her over to the ambulance and placed her in the back, they thanked me and then mentioned something to each other about a helicopter and London. I assumed they were going to have her flown to London for more specialized treatment. The ambulance left and so I went back to the Police officers and asked if they needed anything else from me. They said no, thanked me, and said I could leave. I walked to Rob’s truck, hopped in, and drove back down the hill. It wasn’t until I left the scene that I realized that I had forgotten to put on my seatbelt before I drove away.

So now its 3:35AM and I am extremely tired. This weekend involved the strangest series of events that I have ever experienced, from going to the hospital and getting stitches, to seeing the first ever mid-weekend course switch, to helping a fellow biker on the side of the road, it was just all so unique and odd. At this point, all I can really leave you with is to learn from the mistakes you make and the ones others make. Whether you decide to not wear knee pads just because you’re on an XC bike, or if you decide to go as fast as possible down a road regardless of what’s ahead, it’s important to know that there are always people that have made a similar mistake before you. Just make sure you know the right answer when you come back all bandaged up and Shane J. asks you, “What did you learn?”

It is now Tuesday, September 7, 2011 and my mind is still unsettled about the whole situation this weekend with Tracy. I realize that I did my best with the circumstances that I was faced with, and that there wasn’t anything else that I could have done for her, but I still feel a little bit empty. My concern is that I have been going about the past couple of days without any closure about the incident. I knew nothing about her, I don’t know where she went after I last saw her, and all I have is the vivid memory of looking at her bleeding eyelid as she begged me to lift her head so she could breathe. I normally consider myself an emotionally strong person, but this situation happened to break me down and leave me quite restless. It’s hard to see one of your own go down, even if they do wear lycra and spend all of their time on the road. Regardless, it broke my heart to see a person who’s passion was torn from them in a quick accident. I couldn’t leave it at this, I had to find out more. This morning I Called the Collingwood O.P.P. office and tried to find out more information about what happened to Tracy after the Ambulance left the scene. All they knew at the time was that she was flown to Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. The receptionist sent an email to the Constable in charge of the accident that day and said that he would call me with more information. It wasn’t until later this evening that I received more information from a friend regarding Tracy’s condition…