Sometimes when you get caught up in the fast pace of traveling, demos, and competing, you forget to look at the little things that make an event happen, like location of event, course safety and, in this instance, medical staff. Let me start from the beginning. A few weeks ago Jeremy Carter, Mike Jones, Brian Deegan, Clifford Adaptante, Jake Windham, myself, and Dylan Craemer were invited to do a jump event in Sheffield, England. We all flew into London at the same time, where we were met by Cameron Steele and the event coordinator. It was a three-hour drive from the airport to Sheffield, so we all piled into a mini van and made the journey. For me it was the same crew that I normally ride with, except for a new kid named Dylan. At first he was quiet, as we were all cracking jokes and telling stories to pass the time to get there. To make him feel comfortable, we would crack on him to let him know he was in the crew.
The first night we were there it was as usual: went out, saw the sights, had a good time, pretty much pissed off everyone in Sheffield, and tried not to get thrown in jail. You know, your typical evening when you are on the freeride tour.
Saturday morning rolled around and we all slowly made it to the event. Practice was scheduled for noon sharp and, of course, we were there at a quarter ’til three. I was one of the first guys there and I had the opportunity to see the so-called “qualifying” of the English riders. I have to say, I’m pretty open-minded, but these guys had no business being on a pee wee course let alone a freestyle course. The jumps at this event were on the small side, about 65-70 feet, and we had four ramps set up in a cross-over figure 8. The English guys had some trouble getting over them, though, so they pushed one ramp in to make a 50-foot-long gap. There were six of them and all but one crashed. Most were due to casing hard and getting spit over the bars. Not pretty. I looked at the promoter and he seemed to just laugh it off, so I did too.
When the night show rolled around, we were all pretty much just chillin’. The event wasn’t a high pressure contest, so no big deal. I was on the deck getting ready for my run and I was watching Dylan go out. I’m sure he was a little bit nervous. It was his first time in another country, the stadium was sold out, and the jumps were pretty technical due to the rutted landings. On approach to his first jump his bike popped out of gear on the face! That is the worst thing that could possibly happen. Luckily he stepped over the bars and made it to the down side. He stood up, pumped the crowd, and picked his bike up to finish his run. He came back around and went for the jump again and over-jumped it. No big deal, we thought.
Dylan came riding back over to the stage where Cameron, Deegan, Jake, and I were standing. Cameron walked down to him and it looked like someone had knocked the wind out of him. About a minute later, I saw Cameron waving for the medics. They were looking him over and then I saw a look on Cameron’s face that told me something was not right. As I walked down to them, I saw Dylan’s face. It was pure white. His eyes were rolling back in his head and he wasn’t breathing.
By this time, there was a little bit of panic setting in. Carter was there, who used to be an EMT, and he was screaming at the medics: “Get him out of here, he can’t breathe!” I looked at the medics and they seemed way too calm. I mean, it wasn’t just the wind out of him, he wasn’t breathing at all! We got him on a stretcher and proceeded to wheel him out the back door. I wasn’t about to let a 19-year-old kid in that kind of condition just get taken away without me knowing where he was going. As we came through the back doors, the ambulance was not there. My heart just dropped. At that point, panic broke out. It seems that the ambulance was parked on the other side of the parking lot. By this time, it was about 10 minutes after the initial hit and we were pushing thhe stretcher while Carter was giving him oxygen. The medics were clueless. They were not even medics; they were first aid guys, which means they are only good for spraying antibiotics in cuts. They had no idea what was going on.
Right here in front of us, this kid was dying and there was nothing we could do about it. If it weren’t for Jeremy, things would have been worse. They finally got him out to the hospital. On the way there, his heart stopped. They then revived him, but he was in a coma. I just couldn’t believe what had happened. Due to incompetence, this kid might lose his life. The next day we found out that he had stabilized, but he was a long way from good. His parents were on a plane when we were leaving. The whole way home, all I could think about is how he must have felt being helpless and not being able to do anything about it. Dylan is now home in Salt Lake City, Utah, and is on a long road to recovery. Sometimes you get so caught up in what is going on that you don’t take a step back and realize what is really going on. There were so many little things that weren’t right, but you just think, “oh well,” and keep going. Just remember: be safe and always be aware of your surroundings. Go ride….