Not many motorcyclists are hit head on by a car at 130 miles per hour impact, thrown 150 feet and live to tell the tale.
But in June, Gordon Campbell 74 of Usk, Wash. went out for a day ride through Sandpoint, Idaho, Troy, Libby and back around to Bonners Ferry, Idaho — and didn’t make it to Bonners Ferry.
Campbell and his friend stopped at a coffee shop in Libby on their way to Troy, their turn-around point. His friend left the shop a few minutes before him, so Campbell was on his own.
“We don’t ride together-together,” Campbell said. “Usually we ride far apart to the point where we can’t see the other person.”
He was riding past the Kootenai Falls when he met a car.
“I was doing about 60 mph and I was meeting this car and I would say he was doing about 70 mph,” Campbell said. “And just as we were meeting he came across the road, and there wasn’t anything I could do.”
He hit the car head-on, flew over the top of his car and flew 150 feet.
“There was just a few seconds (while he was in the air) where I prayed and prayed real fast,” Campbell said, admitting that his next thought was “this is going to hurt.”
He then remembers skidding along the ground.
People stopped along the side of the road and prayed with him, telling him that everything was going to be OK.
“I was kind of dazed from the whole thing,” Campbell recalled. “I heard people talking, ‘Is he going to be OK? What happened?’”
Then he was taken by ambulance to the Libby hospital, where he was life-flighted to Coeur d’Alene.
The miracle, he said, was that he only suffered from some broken bones in his fingers and toes, a gash in his left leg, a broken shin and injured elbow. A doctor at the Coeur d’Alene hospital told him that he had never seen anyone live through an accident.
While he was wearing a helmet, Campbell believes strongly that his prayer kept him alive.
He’s ridden up to Alaska and all around the West Coast, but this was his first accident on a bike since he started riding almost 60 years ago.
“First accident ever,” Campbell said. “It was a good one. I made up for all the years without a fender bender.”
His Harley Davidson didn’t survive the wreck, but Campbell, who’s retired from law enforcement, said that this was going to be his last year riding anyway.
At least, he said, he went out with a bang.