Close call, then kindness

One fine morning last week I put my bike in the back of my car, drove to Montesano, left my car at the shop for a repair job, hopped on my bike (wearing my fluorescent pink biking jacket) and set out for home (a scenic 11-mile ride through the countryside.)

It was a perfect day for a bike ride in beautiful rural Grays Harbor County, with sweet-smelling air, light refreshing rain falling and flowers blooming everywhere. I set a leisurely pace and enjoyed absorbing the astounding beauty of this area.

Perfect changed to horrifying and painful a few miles up the Middle Satsop Road. A small truck passed me so close that the side of the truck brushed against my body.I was instantly both terrified and furious, hollered a few expletives, lost control of my bike and crashed into the ditch. The truck kept rolling up the road, driver apparently either uncaring or unaware of the close call they had caused.

It was extremely painful and shocking. I sat there in the ditch in a state of disbelief wondering how anyone could be so thoughtless toward another human being’s safety and life. The careless attitude of the driver was by far the most painful part of the awful incident. I love biking and have been a biker for more than 50 years. To know there are people driving around our county who have seemingly little regard for the safety and well-being of other people using of the road leaves me with a sad pit in my stomach. When I ride my bike, I take care to be both visible and safe.

As maddening as bikers can be to some people, I ask that drivers have some empathy and care for bikers, and leave space around bikers as you pass. Hats off to those of you who do this! Encounters like the one I had are extremely dangerous and can be fatal. Bike riders do have as much of a legal right to be on the road as motorcycles, cars and trucks. Please remember the age-old axiom SHARE THE ROAD!

Now for the upside of my story:

After assessing the road burn, bumps, bruises and bleeding areas on my body, and the damage to my bike, I finally got up out of the ditch and started walking toward home. Eventually a kind woman slowed down to ask if I was OK, and as I was explaining my situation one of the State Park Rangers pulled over to help. He kindly gathered my bike and me off the road to safety, assessed my condition and contacted the County Sheriff’s Department. Soon several deputies arrived and with polite professionalism took my statement and contacted Grays Harbor Fire District 2.

After the ambulance arrived the decision was made to transport me to Summit Pacific Emergency Department to stitch up a gouge in my knee and assess my other wounds. Every single person who showed up to help was polite, kind, professional and extremely helpful. The anonymous woman; the state park ranger; several county deputies; the Fire District 2 EMTs; and the staff at Summit Pacific all treated me with dignity and compassion. To all of you I say THANK YOU! Your kindness and compassion left me knowing there are ever so many genuinely caring residents and workers here in Grays Harbor County.

Suzan Stegemoeller

Satsop Valley