Middletown crash victim’s use of helmet spurs award from motorcycle group

Motorcycle Ohio recognizes Ricky McVety for ‘riding smart.’

In the early afternoon on Oct. 12, 2021, Ricky McVety, of Middletown, would have died if he had not been wearing his motorcycle helmet.

On Wednesday, McVety was recognized for “riding smart” by Motorcycle Ohio because he routinely wore his helmet while riding his motorcycle.

“I feel like the helmet saved my life,” he said during an award ceremony at Queen City Harley-Davidson in West Chester Twp.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

McVety, 23, of Middletown, was on his way home from a class last fall at the Miami University Regionals campus in Middletown when he crossed through Breiel Boulevard and Central Avenue intersection. The busy intersection has six total lanes of northbound and southbound traffic, plus a left turn lane from either direction.

A Dodge Caravan traveled north on Breiel Boulevard when it attempted a left turn onto Central Avenue, according to the Middletown Division of Police report. McVety was traveling south through the intersection on Breiel when the van struck him and his motorcycle.

McVety said he first hit his head on the Caravan’s hood, then he and his motorcycle skidded across the asphalt. His head bounced a couple of times as he slid, before he was stopped by a curb, which his head also struck, he said. His left leg was crushed, first by the striking Caravan and then by his motorcycle .

He shattered bones in his left leg and foot, and sustained injuries to his lower left ribs and road rash. It took him nearly half a year to be able to walk again. McVety said recovery was tough as he lived alone, hopping around his apartment on one leg.

McVety was able to continue his education online studying kinesiology at Miami University in Oxford and psychology at Miami University Regional in Middletown. He said he’s expected to graduate from both programs this December.

“I don’t think any of that would have been possible if I hadn’t been wearing my helmet,” he said.

McVety didn’t think he would have been anxious to get back on a motorcycle, which he was cleared to do after he was able to walk. But minutes into his first ride since the accident, panic set in.

“I wouldn’t have thought I would be (nervous getting back on the motorcycle),” he said. “But within 5 minutes on the road to go to the gas station, I was hyperventilating and constantly just anxious and just feeling really unsteady.”

He took a break at the gas station, enough time for him to catch his breath and calm his nerves, and within about another 20 minutes on the bike, he became relaxed and more comfortable. Today, he doesn’t feel that anxiety.

“He proves that wearing a helmet can save your life,” said Michele Piko, program coordinator at Motorcycle Ohio. She said they give out Saved by the Helmet recognitions “as much as possible,” and 18 have been distributed this year, which includes a new motorcycle helmet and certificate for making the smart safety choice.

“Those 18 people, if they did not have their riding gear, they would not be here today,” she said. “We have family members that we want all these riders to go home to. I couldn’t imagine being in their situation.”

Just calling to say something happened is bad enough, Piko said just thinking about the alternative “breaks my heart.”

“If he hadn’t had a helmet on, I can’t imagine what type of phone call that would have been,” she said.

Over the past three years, Piko said the program’s averaged 25 awards a year. The program started in 1988.

Just this season, McVety said, he’s been to three funerals, so wearing a helmet, “it’s pretty important.”

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