By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
Jan Morgan, owner of Boardtown Bikes in Starkville, was hit by a car while cycling in Pheba Sunday morning.
According to her husband of nearly 28 years, David Morgan, she is suffering from a significant head injury that has caused bleeding to her brain. She also has several rib fractures, which led to a collapsed lung, a fracture in her spine, a bilateral tibula fracture, and broken fingers on both hands, among other injuries. She is sedated and on a ventilator.
According to the Mississippi Highway Patrolâ€™s accident report, Morgan, 57, was traveling west on Highway 50 at 10:30 a.m. Sunday when she was struck by a westbound car driven by Robbie Norton, 44, of Cedar Bluff.
Morgan was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. She was transported by ambulance to a hospital in West Point, where she was then flown to North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo.
The Morgans opened Boardtown Bikes almost three years ago when they recognized a need for a bicycle shop in the Starkville community. Though Jan was new to riding at the time, she took on the project with passion and enthusiasm. She is a retired anesthesiologist and David works as a physician in Columbus, so health is a priority in their lives.
â€śWe opened that shop to promote good health so people donâ€™t have to come to people like me,â€ť Morgan said.
He described his wife as an â€śactive and dynamic grandmother,â€ť who tackled the challenge head on. Jan started out barely able to complete a five mile ride, but last November, she competed in an Ironman competition in Florida. She gave it her all, but she wasnâ€™t able to finish.
â€śShe had been beating herself up over not finishing. She wasnâ€™t satisfied,â€ť Morgan said. â€śShe was out on a training ride when she was hit.â€ť
Jan and her friend, Kim Richardson were out riding together Sunday morning on a route that they were both very familiar with.
â€śWe were approximately 35 miles into a 60-mile ride that morning. We had just turned west onto Highway 50 from Highway 46 and Jan dropped back behind me. Jan was struck from behind by a woman driving a car at full speed,â€ť Richardson said. â€śWe were on a long, flat stretch of highway with no oncoming traffic and with excellent visibility. In fact, the car behind the car that struck Jan had clearly seen us.â€ť
â€śThe helmet was ripped off of her. She was ripped out of her shoes, as well,â€ť Morgan said. â€śThe helmet saved her life, no doubt about it.â€ť
Last year, Gov. Haley Barbour passed the John Paul Frerer Bicycle Safety Act in honor of young man from Tupelo who was hit by a car and killed while cycling. The law acts requires motorists to leave at least three feet of space when passing bicyclists.
â€śIn Starkville, people are very courteous. Itâ€™s turning into a very good cycling community,â€ť Morgan said. â€śItâ€™s very scary to have a car pass very close to you when youâ€™re on a bicycle. Probably the biggest problem is having someone who has their mind on their cell phone or texting while theyâ€™re driving.â€ť
The Starkville Police recently started enforcing the local helmet ordinance. Sgt. Shawn Word said that theyâ€™ve seen a good response from the public so far.
â€śThe majority of the bicyclists are wearing helmets. We have had to issue some court summons, and we will continue to issue summons to those who choose not to wear a helmet,â€ť Word said. â€śIâ€™ve seen where helmets have saved people from major injuries. Itâ€™s kind of like wearing a seat belt in a car, if you can save yourself from getting hurt, you need to do it. While you may be doing everything right, itâ€™s the people around you that tend to be the reason you could get hurt.â€ť
No charges were filed against the driver, but the accident is still under investigation, according to Brian Mobley, spokesman for the Mississippi Highway Patrol.
â€śPlease pray for my wife,â€ť Morgan said. â€śShe has a long road to go.â€ť