Death on the Mountain

August 17, 2017

As the name of this blog suggests I was unfortunately involved in an incident on Pikes Peak yesterday. I will start from the start and get to it.

I was up and raring to go to ride up Pikes Peak. The Peak is the backdrop that you can see in my photos that I took of Colorado Springs and Garden of the Gods. It has an altitude of 14,114 feet above sea level and it ranks as Number 31 in elevation among Colorado’s 54 peaks that are all over 14,000 ft (they are referred to as the “Fourteeners”).

It takes me about 25 mins to get from home and thru the entrance gate;

My National Park Pass doesn’t cover Pikes Peak and I pay the $15 entrance fee. The distance to the Peak is longer than I expected (38 miles) and the guide recommends that you have at least a half tank of fuel as consumption is double. I set off and as expected the scenery is sensational;

The Peak has 3 lakes that you can fish in between May – October and heaps of picnic areas / walking trails;

I spot a dirt side road and I am off on it for a look. Fred loves dirt and has a ball lighting up the rear as there is no luggage to weigh him down;

I get back on the main road and continue climbing up the mountain;

I stop at the Glencove Inn and have my photo taken by some Chinese tourists;

I get going again and I am starting to notice the altitude as its nearly 12,000ft – my hands are starting to freeze and my breathing is affected as well. Fred is running ok but occasionally stalls and has trouble idling. The scenery just keeps getting better;

Up until this point the day has been one right out of the box. I slowly get around a corner and see up ahead of me is a Harley Davidson tipped over on its side and there are about 3 people next to the bike and attending to what appears to be the male rider on the ground. As I get closer I see the rider has his clothing open and a guy and a older woman are performing CPR. Another man is attending to the victims airway. I can also see vehicles ahead of me are going right past without stopping.

I pull Fred up and run over to help. The guy doing the airway appears to be in charge as he is giving instructions and I later find out he is the on duty medic from the visitor centre at the top of the Peak (the centre was less than 2 miles from our position). I ask if I can help and tell him I am a Police Officer and know CPR. I jump in and give the lady a rest (she would have been well into her 60’s but what a lady). Next thing I am going hammer and tongs doing CPR whilst the medic handles the airway – he is using a plastic type air bag to squeeze and get oxygen into him.

I get up to speed and are told that the 2 others saw the rider move to the side of the road and fall. He was only travelling very slowly given the incline. I got the impression it happened about 10 mins or so before I arrived. The other 2 couldn’t get a response and started CPR and were joined by the Medic. A helicopter and ambulance were on their way. The 3 of us kept rotating doing the compressions. After a while the max we could get out was about 90 each before stopping given how hard of an effort it was due to the altitude.

The helicopter landed at the centre and the paramedic attended to treat the man on a much higher level (injections etc). A defibrillator was still maintained (it was hooked up when I arrived) but no further shocks were given as no electrical activity was being detected. The paramedic could only detect the blood flow that we were creating (we were still doing the compressions whilst the others did their thing). After a total of 1hr and 10mins the paramedic called time as there was nothing left that could be done and the man was pronounced deceased.

I provided my contact details to the medic and spoke to the others involved before heading off. I was now aware that the guy had a history of heart trouble and had a heart attack about 20 years ago. I couldn’t help but think what the hell he was doing up there given that there is a clear warning in large bold letters on the pamphlet you are given upon entry which states; “Caution: The drive is not recommended for infants or anyone with a history of cardiac, respiratory or other health problems”

Right at this time I was absolutely spent – obviously the adrenaline had kicked in when doing CPR but now I could hardly stand up. I got on Fred and went up to the Visitor Centre to sit down and rest. Once up there it was surreal as everyone was going about their happy holidays when a bloke had just died within a stone throw. I would also guess that a fair number of them drove past and starred out of the window whilst we were trying to save him. I think if someone tapped me on the shoulder and said there is a plane here to take you back to Australia I would have gladly got on (with Fred).

Thankfully for me the guy who had also helped with CPR spotted where I was sitting and came over with his wife to talk. Turns out they are part time ministers (filling in when the pastor is away) from North Carolina. We basically had a debrief and got it out of our system by having perspective on what took place. I hope to catch up with them at some stage as they were both outstanding individuals.

I have found writing about this quite difficult but some good as come out of it. I am proud that I did not hesitate for 1 minute and jumped in to help. I did find it difficult to process later. I have been a Police Officer for 31 years and did first aid training every one of those years but thankfully until now had not found myself in a situation doing CPR. The last thing I would have thought of, when I was having such a fantastic motorcycle ride in an overseas country, is trying to save a strangers life. I also know if anyone talks rubbish about blacks and whites I can always point out that the minister was black and he worked his backside off trying to save a white guy. I know that we all did everything that could be done to save the guy but his time had come.

So after feeling somewhat better I get back on Fred to head down the mountain. I made myself take photo’s as I knew that I would have regretted it later if I didn’t but still felt pretty flat doing it;

I was so exhausted that about half way down I felt myself going to sleep. I pulled over, put Freds kick stand down and fell straight asleep – I still had my helmet on with my head resting on my arms across the handlebars. I can’t ever remember being so stuffed in all of my life. About 10mins later I woke to the sound of a womans voice who was asking if I was alright. Turns out that she is a nurse and was on a drive with her husband for the day (both are locals). Her stopping and checking also reminded me that there are good people out there.

The sleep was enough to get me going and I continued to ride Fred back home;

Once home I went and had a 20min nap to try and shake off the fatigue. After waking up I was able to catch Helen (wife) via skype before she went to work. As usual she was of tremendous support.

Speaking of support, when Dave and Sonia arrived home from work we went thru it and they were gold. Both had numerous experiences with CPR given their training/employment. I was shocked when Sonia told me the story of her first CPR incident where she saved a mans life. She was home alone when she heard a car crash nearby. She went and found the crash site and pulled the driver out and with CPR saved his life. The same guy tried to sue her as a result of the incident for pain and suffering! Words fail me on that one.

So the sun still came up this morning and I was able to get this blog done. I look forward to the next adventure but would have no trouble if my travels were to get on the boring side for a while.

21 comments

  1. Comment by Britta

    Britta Reply August 17, 2017 at 6:54 am

    Sorry to hear that noel, that’s quite traumatic! You did a great thing.

    • Comment by Noel

      Noel Reply August 17, 2017 at 12:10 pm

      Thanks

  2. Comment by Donna

    Donna Reply August 17, 2017 at 8:13 am

    So sorry for all you went through but I can imagine what a blessing it was to all involved that you stopped to help. It sure feels like you were put on there for a reason and I can imagine how much it means to this man’s family that caring people like the three of you were with their loved one in his last moments and worked so hard on his behalf.

    • Comment by Noel

      Noel Reply August 17, 2017 at 12:12 pm

      It was hard to take because you just naturally assume that if you keep going until the cavalry arrive the person will live.

  3. Comment by BF

    BF Reply August 17, 2017 at 9:46 am

    Id expect nothing less of you Noel and im proud of you mate. That mans family would be so grateful that there were wonderful people that did everything they could.

    • Comment by Noel

      Noel Reply August 17, 2017 at 11:18 am

      thanks

  4. Comment by Pam Burley

    Pam Burley Reply August 17, 2017 at 10:21 am

    For the few minutes we visited in Spearfish, I would have expected no less of you! It was just his time! Enjoy your trip!!!!

    • Comment by Noel

      Noel Reply August 17, 2017 at 12:13 pm

      thanks to the woman from Alaska

  5. Comment by Greg

    Greg Reply August 17, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    God Bless, Noel. It’s all part of the journey, I suppose, but that was a stand up thing you did up there.

    Greg

    • Comment by Noel

      Noel Reply August 17, 2017 at 2:04 pm

      Thanks

  6. Comment by Mark

    Mark Reply August 17, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    Very proud of you Noel! There are so many people who just stand there helpless when an incident like that presents itself! I’m sure the family of the victim would be very appreciative for what you all did for him! I am 0 for 2 performing CPR on two different people! 1st guy was a shooting victim who was shot in the chest while I was at work and the 2nd guy collapsed after arriving to shoot at a local gun club. Neither one of the people made it but at least I gave it my best effort. Stay safe and stay positive!

    • Comment by Noel

      Noel Reply August 17, 2017 at 2:02 pm

      Thanks

  7. Comment by Nath

    Nath Reply August 17, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Great work mate, you obviously did all you could plus more. Don’t stress over the people that didn’t stop as more than likely they would have been a hindrance more than help anyway. The sun did rise again (not in Victoria, Still fkn cold) and you’re surrounded by good people.

    • Comment by Noel

      Noel Reply August 17, 2017 at 2:03 pm

      Thanks mate

  8. Comment by Christos

    Christos Reply August 18, 2017 at 3:51 am

    Good work Noel you are an absolute champion!!

    • Comment by Noel

      Noel Reply August 18, 2017 at 4:00 am

      Thanks Dude – I am heading back to Vegas on 29th.

  9. Comment by T Rea

    T Rea Reply August 18, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    Hey big fella just got onto this blog fan page of yours. Buddy real inspiration and I have just caught up reading your blogs, fantastic mate. You are leading the way and giving many of us true meaning of travel, I love to do it one day, maybe in a Winnebago lol. Keep up the good work love reading your blogs stay safe and I look forward to reading the next installment

    • Comment by Noel

      Noel Reply August 18, 2017 at 9:29 pm

      Hey Trev – I was only thinking of you yesterday. I was going to get Priscilla to email you to get you hooked up. You would love it over here – blokes hug….Ha.

      • Comment by T REA

        T REA Reply August 21, 2017 at 7:53 am

        Gold lolIt only goes to Broken Hill tho

        Mate stay safe and you crack me up blokes hug back to ya

  10. Comment by joe green

    joe green Reply August 19, 2017 at 7:18 am

    Hi Noel.
    we are so proud of you mate for what you did trying to save that poor guy.
    its an honer to know you. your a top guy.

    still following your blog you have visited such interesting places.
    wonderful pictures from Sturgis it shows what a great bikers gathering it is.
    my visit to the Ulster Grand Prix went very well great racing.
    Adrienne and i are now on the isle of man for classic TT manx grand prix.
    enjoy the rest of your travels.
    safe riding mate.
    best wishes.
    Joe & Adrienne.

    • Comment by Noel

      Noel Reply August 19, 2017 at 12:01 pm

      At the TT – good on you.

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