Friday, July 18, 2014
GOSHEN — Richard Graham, 55, of Ashfield was riding his bicycle on Route 9 when he noticed a car in the opposite lane attempt to pass two large trucks near Loomis Road in Goshen. That was the last thing Graham remembers seeing before the car struck him at a high rate of speed.
The accident occurred just before the Fourth of July holiday on July 3 around 2:30 p.m.
Graham was traveling west in the breakdown lane on his way to the Creamery Grocery in Cummington.
“I was going down the hill, and the car was going up the hill when all of a sudden it swerved into the opposite lane and hit me head-on at about 50 to 60 miles an hour,” he said.
Graham rolled onto the hood of the car, smashing the windshield and landing about 50 feet away from the vehicle.
According to Goshen Police Chief Jeffrey Hewes, the driver of the car was traveling with a young boy. Hewes said the driver, who was not the owner the car, will be cited for failure to drive within marked lanes and neglectful operation of a motor vehicle.
The car’s owner reportedly lives in Millis.
“I am lucky to be alive. If it wasn’t for my helmet and my friend Joy quickly stopping traffic so I didn’t get hit again, I really think I would be dead,” Graham said.
According to Graham, Joy Ovitt of Goshen Road in Williamsburg happened to be driving behind the car that hit him.
“It was unreal, like a cartoon,” Ovitt said of the accident. “There were two tractor-trailer trucks in front of this car, when all of a sudden, the car veered out into the opposite lane and I thought, ‘What ... are you doing?’” she said.
Ovitt then watched as the car hit Graham, sending him flying off his bike. “I pulled over immediately and called 911 before my car had even stopped,” Ovitt said.
Graham remembers Ovitt trying to prevent him from moving, keeping him calm and reassuring him help was on the way.
“He keeps saying I saved his life but I don’t think I did that much,” Ovitt said. “All I did I learned from a father that is a firefighter in Northampton and a mom who is a CNA at Cooley Dickinson,” she said of her parents, Robert and Darlene Tomaskowicz.
Emergency personnel from Highland Ambulance and the Goshen fire and police departments quickly responded to the scene. Route 9 was closed that afternoon while crews tended to his injuries. The eastbound lane remained closed for more than an hour while an accident reconstruction team from the State Police worked with Goshen Police to document the scene.
Many who witnessed the accident, including some emergency personnel, thought the cyclist must have sustained severe injuries. “There were people in town that thought I was dead,” Graham said.
Graham sustained several fractured ribs, a fractured ankle, a wrist that is broken in six places and a multitude of bumps and bruises.
While Graham did not require a hospital stay, his wife Pam said he will likely require further surgeries to repair his injuries.
The cyclist said he used bicycling as an exercise regimen to assist him in recovering from back injuries he suffered after falling two stories at a construction accident several years ago. Since then he has been on disability.
“I just hope that I will be able to ride again, “ Graham said. “I lost my bike, my helmet and my biking clothes and my insurance won’t pay for that because I don’t have any receipts,” he said.