A biker was zooming down some dirt trails when he stumbled upon an ominous object in the road: a helmet, apparently discarded, signaled that something was not quite right. Indeed, the biker was about to discover that a nasty accident had just occurred.
The dirt biker goes by the online name of “OnTo1Wheel,” and his YouTube channel includes dozens of videos of his high-speed motorbike adventures around America. “The most fun about two wheels,” says his channel description, “is getting them on to one wheel!”
And so in April 2015 OnTo1Wheel was exploring the Hollister Hills in California. Located in the Gabilan Mountains, the area encompasses several ranches, picnic areas, a nature reserve and hundreds of miles of trails – ideal for dirt bikes and 4WD vehicles.
OnTo1Wheel was in fact riding solo in the Renz area of the hills when he came across the discarded helmet. “I was pretty winded from lots of singletrack before I even got there,” he wrote on his YouTube channel. “I gotta get in shape for these kinds of days…”
Deciding to investigate, OnTo1Wheel dismounted his bike and dropped the kickstand. It was then that he heard somebody calling from a nearby slope. Under a tree a short distance away was the dark outline of what appeared to be a crash scene.
Clambering up the hill, OnTo1Wheel discovered an upturned quad bike. And underneath it was a man, apparently crushed from the waist down. “I thought for sure the guy was chopped in half when I got up there!” wrote the dirt biker. “Freaky moment, for sure.”
Fortunately, the stricken man wasn’t chopped in half. However, he was pinned down and in serious pain. It didn’t look good, but it could always have been worse. The bike could have landed on his upper body and caused horrific internal damage or, quite probably, killed him.
“The trail he was on was just above,” explained OnTo1Wheel. “So I’m pretty sure when he rolled off the trail, his quad rolled 270 degrees before pinning him.” Thankfully, the man had not been suffering for very long: he told OnTo1Wheel that he’d only been there for five minutes before he found him.
Are quad bikes more dangerous than dirt bikes? Many people believe so. Although four wheels offer greater balance, quad bikes weigh far more than dirt bikes. So while a minor crash on a dirt bike may leave you with a few bruises and scrapes, a crash on a quad bike is more likely to leave you with a crushed pelvis, too.
Back at the scene, the man had, according to OnTo1Wheel, deliberately thrown his helmet onto the track. “Not sure if it was out of frustration, or trying to get attention, but it is what I saw first,” he wrote. “I’m not sure I would have seen him otherwise.”
Now the common sense rule for dealing with crash victims is to leave them where they are until the paramedics arrive. In fact, moving any casualty can cause significant physical damage. However, there are exceptions to the rule – and this man was in agony and asking for help.
“I know every choice I made was not perfect,” OnTo1Wheel continued. “I felt I had a very limited time to relieve this guy from the pain he was in. This was the best I could do.” And so OnTo1Wheel decided to try to lift the quad bike.
There was actually a winch attached to the front of the quad, but OnTo1Wheel didn’t see it at the time. Moreover, even if he had somehow managed to secure it to a tree branch, there was the risk that the branch might break. And that would have caused the quad to tumble back down.
Instead, then, the dirt biker tried to lift the quad with brute strength. However, the quad, which probably weighed several hundred pounds, appeared to be too much for him to handle. “Too bad the first guy to come along is old, weak, and has a bad back,” wrote OnTo1Wheel.
So after failing to lift the quad very far off the man’s legs, OnTo1Wheel had to lower it back down, causing the injured man to groan in pain. “Let me tell you,” wrote OnTo1Wheel, “he was one tough dude to put up with the pain he was clearly enduring!”
Thinking on his feet, then, OnTo1Wheel gathered up some old logs lying in the grass. His idea was to wedge them under the vehicle in order to prop it up. And this time, instead of using his arms to try and move the quad, he decided to use his legs.
With this new approach, the quad moved a fraction, and the man began trying wriggle his way out. He dragged himself a short way and released a few agonized groans before pausing, apparently exhausted. It was progress – but not quite enough.
Once more, OnTo1Wheel leaned into the quad and lifted it a small distance. This time the man screamed as he dragged himself out all the way. He then appeared to roll around in the grass briefly, probably relieved at escaping and perhaps numb from the crush.
Fortunately, there did not appear to be any lasting damage. “I haven’t talked with the guy since this happened, not sure who he is,” wrote OnTo1Wheel. “After 15 minutes or so, he seemed to recover fully, and he was thankful for the help in getting out.”
Things had worked out. Although OneTo1Wheel may have broken the rules of roadside first aid, the risk clearly paid off. In fact, had he left the man there much longer, his final condition might have been considerably worse. Good job, OnTo1Wheel.