Motorcyclists won't want to take a shortcut on safety as they emerge from a long winter layover and hit the roads this spring weekend. A Garretson couple credits an important precaution for helping their son survive a horrific crash on Easter Sunday. And they hope by sharing his story, they'll inspire others to do the same.
Hjelmen's survival story could be a cautionary tale for other bikers out enjoying the open road this weekend. Hjelmen crashed his motorcycle west of Garretson and was thrown some 30-feet. His family says the outcome could have been much worse, if not for the helmet he was wearing at the time.
Bryan Hjelmen was big into biking even when he was little.
"When he was seven, he was going to change his name to Harley Davidson Bryan Richard Hjelmen, this huge name," Bryan's mother Renee Hjelmen said.
Renee Hjelmen nixed her son's name change, insisting, instead, he focused on safety. So when Bryan was old enough to ride a motorcycle, he became a stickler for wearing his helmet.
"His friends always used to say why are you wearing a helmet? It's too hot. Why do you have a coat on? It's too hot. He goes, my mom would kick my you-know-what if I didn't have a helmet on," Renee said.
Hjelmen was wearing his helmet at the time he skidded out of control on his way to his parents' house for Easter dinner. The Hjelmens say he likely swerved to avoid an animal in the road. His anguished mother came to the crash scene, fearing the worst.
"I seen him laying there with the ventilator tube in him and blood from his eye and his ear and just... my boy, I didn't know if he was going to make it or not," Renee said.
Hjelmen came out of his coma on Thursday. Renee Hjelmen says her son's habit of wearing a helmet made all the difference.
"The doctor said if he didn't have a helmet on, he would not be here today," Renee said.
The Hjelmens are hoping for nothing but good things lying ahead for Bryan in the days, weeks and months to come as he begins his long road to recovery.
"I just want my Bryan back," Renee said.
That recovery will likely include skin graft surgeries and intense physical therapy.
You can help with Hjelmen's medical costs by donating to a fund in his name at any Wells Fargo bank.