Photos and Words by Mike Emery | @emeryphoto
Crashing plain sucks, and when you’re a professional freestyle rider crashing REALLY sucks. This week while out at Pala Raceway, our friend Dustin “Wacker” Nowak took an incredibly brutal hit that severely broke both of his ankles at the same time after what he calls “a rookie move.” Wacker is well known for riding an Alta Redshift MX, and he’s actually the first rider to flip the bike over a 75 foot ramp to dirt gap. We interviewed him recently about it, and you can watch that HERE. He’s also the owner of Thrashed Kids, which is a rad brand that recently re-launched their site (as he discusses below.) Tuesday’s crash has him in the hospital for multiple days, requiring multiple surgeries, with a heap of medical bills, but he’s in good spirits. We checked in with him last night to talk about the crash, and also see how anyone can help him out!
Well this sucks. What happened?
Well, shoot. I was out at Pala on Tuesday and I was just pretty amped to go ride. It was a little windy, and I geared up super quick and just hopped on my bike and I went out. Generally, I'll go spin a couple laps and just cruise and check everything out. But I went, and pulled the full rookie move and I hit the 75-foot ramp in map one instead of map 4. It's basically the new-age equivalent of forgetting to turn your gas on back in the day.
And if people don't understand what you're talking about – you ride the electric Alta Redshift MX as your main bike, and are actually the first rider ever to flip it ramp to dirt. There are four different power options, and it was unfortunately in the first one when you usually jump in map four – correct?
Yeah, and I've jumped that 75-foot ramp a million times, flipped it a bunch. I ride that ramp all the time, never thought twice about it. I just got on the gas, and it was just totally my fault. It's basically the same thing as missing a shift, or hitting it in first gear, or just doing something stupid.
When keepin' it real goes wrong…..whoops. I'll be going in for 2 new ankles here shortly. My medical bills are about to be extraordinary so if ya like what I do, head over to @thrashedkids and buy all my shirts. Haha #thrashedkids #dangit – to clear things up, I have 2 broken ankles. It was super windy and I was cruising around the FMX course about to hit the track at Pala. Wind felt okay for a sec and I decided to hit the ramp. Essentially, since I was on the electric bike I hit it in "1st" or map one. Totally brain fart, bummer move on my end. Just was excited to go ride. Note to future self. Don't do that ya dingus. Glad it wasn't worse because after the initial impact I had no feeling whatsoever as I was rolling down the backside of the landing. Very scary.
So you were just stoked and were like, "I'm gonna hit this thing for fun quick!"
Yeah I was gonna hit it really quick and then just go and spin some motos because it was windy. It got me just far enough that I got my front wheel basically to the top of the landing and backsided it. I just compressed, came to a dead stop, rolled off the back of the bike, and it was kind of gnarly because I didn't really have any feeling for a couple seconds and I was super sketched out on that. Then I started getting some tingling in my toes and when that happened I immediately knew that I broke both of my ankles, and they got me over to a hospital here in Escondido. They started on one of my ankles already –I shattered the talus –so they put that thing back together and now my left ankle is in an external fixator because they're waiting for the swelling to go down. There was already some hardware in there that is complicating things, but hopefully they can wrap that up here in the next week or so. For now I'm just sitting here watching TV and hanging out.
So you recently did a re-launch of your brand Thrashed Kids, and you joked about taking the brand name too literally with this crash. And now you just mentioned before we started recording that this is how the brand actually started in the beginning?
Yeah, pretty much! Growing up, we're always beating ourselves up and always have a sprained ankle or a sprained wrist from riding BMX and riding moto. Actually the first time I officially launched the brand and the clothing was in 2004, and I had just broken both of my ankles at a freestyle show and spent the whole summer in bed. I basically did the same thing. Yeah, my girlfriend Heather and I just got it pretty much going again the last couple of weeks and it's all up and running. We figured rather than a GoFundMe, just asking people to support us in that way and check out www.ThrashedKids.com — that's the real deal.
Well nobody can say the brand isn't authentic!
[Laughs] Yeah, it wasn't quite the launch we were looking for. I always joked that throughout the years if I had the time I wouldn't have the money, and if I had the money I wouldn't have the time because I'm too busy riding and traveling. So right now, money is tight and we actually already launched it and are just trying to get it going to see if we can make it happen. I'm just focused on designing some cool shit and getting it out there.
So readers that want to help out a broken FMX guy, hit the Thrashed Kids site?
Buy a T-Shirt and some stickers and we'll throw in some extra goodies like we always do.
Heal up dude.