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Teen recovers from Motocross crash

Posted: March 7, 2008 1:29 a.m.
Updated: May 8, 2008 5:02 a.m.
 
For most motorcycle riders, injuries come with the territory. No matter how many precautions are taken, the threat of a harmful collision is a constant, especially for professional bikers, who participate in a variety of events such as A.M.A. Motocross. Yet the threat of injury or harm does not discourage riders from operating their motorcycles.

However, some riders do suffer some serious bodily harm. Kirke Currier is one of them. On Jan. 18, the 18-year-old Motocross rider from a Seattle suburb drove down with his friends from Washington state to Piru - a few miles west of the intersection of Interstate 5 and Highway 126.

On Jan. 18, the day he arrived in Piru, Kirke's professional biking career was cut a few months short when he took a fall at the racing ground.

Located in Piru is a practice ground for Motocross riders. There, he planned to do some practice runs in preparation of the racing season this summer in the Pacific Northwest. It was supposed to be his last summer racing professionally before going to college.

"We were supposed to finish together," said Dave Currier, Kirke's dad. "I am 50 years old and I wanted to retire this year. He was going to finish with me."

Going into a 90-foot jump, a slower rider in front of Kirke decided not to take the jump. Kirke, who was only a few feet behind him, tried to steer clear of the slower rider, who was in his way.

Kirke proceeded to take the jump, attempting to compensate for the slower rider's mishap by jumping off the side of the dirt incline. He did not land properly, landing on his side at full speed and momentum. Both of his legs and hips were injured. A friend's dad immediately called Dave in Seattle, and gave the phone to Kirke. The younger Currier explained to his father what happened. Dave immediately drove to the airport, talking to his son on the phone the entire way, and bought a plane ticket to Los Angeles.

"We talked the whole time on the phone," Dave said.

A few hours later, Dave arrived at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital just in time to see his son rolled into the emergency room for surgery.

"That was a real tough time for me, as a father," Dave added. "It's something no one should go through. I went through emotions that I never knew existed."

Kirke, who rode for six years prior to the accident and wore full body gear when he was injured, eventually suffered a cerebral fat embolism, usually caused by physical trauma such as a motorcycle collision. Fat emboli generally occurs when there is a bone fracture followed by surgery.

It is common whenever fat has an opportunity to enter the blood stream, and in Kirke's case, the brain. Victims often go into a coma, which is what happened to Kirke.

As brain damage is often the result, cognitive functions are adversely affected. Such was the case with Kirke, who suffered the embolism shortly after surgery, severely limiting his cognitive functions such as speaking.

In the three weeks, since, he has shown signs of progress. According to his father, Kirke is able to respond to questions, mostly with a blink of an eye or slight nod of his head. Doctors stated that Kirke will eventually recover due to his young age. Had the incident occurred at an older age, particularly if Kirke were in his 40s or 50s, the odds of survival would be significantly lower.

"It's amazing how much he has progressed," Dave said. "The hospital staff has been amazing, and the support from the community was also amazing."

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