Motorcycle crash survivors thank first responders

Published: Oct. 24, 2020 at 6:50 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A motorcycle accident changed the lives for two people who used to hit the open roads back in September.

Today, they wanted to honor the mission township first responders who saved their lives.

Jerry Pennington has been driving motorcycles for about 40 years and he said he always wears his helmet, he’s trained for motorcycle driving and licensed for his Harley Davidson. But after September 19, he and Barbara Oliva won’t be suiting up anymore following an unexpected accident.

Oliva said, “I truly believe that because they were able to react so fast and do such a good job that we are here today.”

Pennington said, “I can sum it up quickly, lucky to be alive.”

They went on a motorcycle ride as they normally do until a truck driving on the wrong side of the road, hit them straight on. They were driving north bound when a pick-up truck was driving on the same side of the road and hit them straight on causing both Pennington and Oliva to be forcefully ejected from their seat. The accident left Pennington with five broken toes, a compound fracture in his left leg and left wrist, broken left shoulder blade, broken right collarbone, broken nose, lacerated chin and liver, and what he calls road rash on his teeth, leaving behind marks on them. Oliva broke her leg, pelvis, ribs and suffered from brain bleeding.

Neither remember the crash and spent weeks in an unconscious state.

They have spent the last months in hospitals and in wheelchairs.

Pennington said, “And the pictures and my son told me, and I wasn’t able to talk even ask him about this for quite a few days because I just didn’t want to know. I hit that truck head on just right in the center, he said I couldn’t have been more center.”

Pennington’s son Joe and his wife were following the two on their ride and witnessed the crash, just missing being involved in the accident too.

“I said, 'Well Joe, how close were you to hitting that truck,” said Pennington. “He said, ‘dad you landed in the driveway, I was able to stop at the mailbox.’”

The two wanted to give recognition to the first responders with Mission Township Fire Department for their efforts in saving their lives.

Oliva said, “We were able to meet everyone today and it’s so nice to be able to meet people that truly saved your life.”

Pennington said, “It’s very heartwarming, very humbling and just makes me feel very appreciative that they are here.”

Pennington is still an advocate for riding his motorcycle and believes in safety first and for people to watch out for motorcycles on the road.

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