Despite many unsuccessful attempts I kept climbing the stairs In Hartford, Conn. to give a backwards rail-grind another try. After a short while I was no longer focused, running the broken record course and looking for 'the one' to just happen. This was back in 1999, when the "Road Fools One" video was still getting frequent play and I was inspired. The 'one' finally came, but it arrived as a disaster. My back wheel cleared the rail and upside down I went, head first to the sidewalk nine stairs below.
Here's a brief recount following the fall: head to pavement, unconscious, vomit, blood and fluid draining from right ear, friends obtain a passerby's phone, ambulance arrives, clothes cut off, neck brace strapped, gurney mounted, into ambulance, and finally, into the hospital.
The physical results of my crash was a fractured skull, a ruptured eardrum and a brain contusion.
For a while, I was required to sleep sitting up, using elevation to prevent any excess blood from remaining in my brain. Whenever not standing upright, my environment and I were divided due to dizziness. Against my wishes, I remained sedentary to avoid the instability and nausea. My short-term memory was impaired briefly, and later, I was told that I was verbally abusive with family members during my first few days at home. Until the swelling ultimately diminished, I was ill-tempered and irritable.
I was required to sleep sitting up, using elevation to prevent any excess blood from remaining in my brain.
Was this experience enough for me to understand the course of the accident or the devastating effects of head trauma? If so, I didn't heed its warning. Failing to change for the better (safer), I continued living with only a partially-amended judgment.
January of this year, I was in Las Vegas for some winter filming with the rest of the Verde crew. On the fourth day, we visited a ditch frequented by locals. We crawled through a fence with bikes to check the options. Soon I become restless, not pleased with the angled banks, a mellow wallride and a low sub-rail. Having not filmed anything of worth yet, I'm eager to find some obstacle or line to make some moves. I look back to where we entered and see the first thing that interests me. Why not jump over and out of the ditch? Restlessness still hanging over me, I commit myself to the attempt. I don't think or feel much of anything in relation to the pending action as I test a few routes to avoid debris.
The events of my immediate future are set. Waiting at the far end of the ditch, I'm signaled that cameras are ready. I pedal towards the fence.
My back tire tops the fence and I'm pitched into a superman for a fraction of a moment before hitting pavement. I'm out for a brief intermission, then consciousness returns. In the first few seconds, I see figures above me but I'm trying to gauge my injuries. Blood runs over my face. A siren sounds in my right ear, and fluid enters into my ear canal. To stop fluid loss, I pull my shirt off and wrap my head. I'm grateful for the ability to move, taste, see, hear and speak. Having clear thoughts, I'm taken to the hospital in hopes of retaining these wonderful things.
Laying in the backseat of the van, I waste no time to berate myself. "NO HELMET! You don't deserve this second lesson. You're not in the clear yet. That dizziness might not leave you, this ship might still be sinking. Another time you put family and friends through hell! Have you not already seen both sides of head trauma, first as the injured and then as a witness? What now? Do you have any choices left? Did you before? Wear a helmet or you will not ride."
Yeagle sustained a fractured skull and minor bleeding on the brain. He remained in stable condition and in good spirits throughout the ordeal, and was released from the hospital two days after the accident. Yeagle remains off the bike currently, and will make a full recovery. When that happens, he plans on wearing a helmet.
HEAD TRAUMA ON ESPN BMX
- Head Injuries in Action Sports
- Part 1: Brian Yeagle
- Part 2: Jimmy Levan
- Part 3: Gary Young
- Part 4: Brian Foster
- Part 5: Van Homan