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 Patrol’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.
“We opened that shop to promote good health so people don’t have to come to people like me,” Morgan said.
He described his wife as an “active and dynamic grandmother,” 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 wasn’t able to finish.
“She had been beating herself up over not finishing. She wasn’t satisfied,” Morgan said. “She was out on a training ride when she was hit.”
Jan and her friend, Kim Richardson were out riding together Sunday morning on a route that they were both very familiar with.
“We 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,” Richardson said. “We 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.”
“The helmet was ripped off of her. She was ripped out of her shoes, as well,” Morgan said. “The helmet saved her life, no doubt about it.”
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.
“In Starkville, people are very courteous. It’s turning into a very good cycling community,” Morgan said. “It’s very scary to have a car pass very close to you when you’re on a bicycle. Probably the biggest problem is having someone who has their mind on their cell phone or texting while they’re driving.”
The Starkville Police recently started enforcing the local helmet ordinance. Sgt. Shawn Word said that they’ve seen a good response from the public so far.
“The 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,” Word said. “I’ve seen where helmets have saved people from major injuries. It’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, it’s the people around you that tend to be the reason you could get hurt.”
No charges were filed against the driver, but the accident is still under investigation, according to Brian Mobley, spokesman for the Mississippi Highway Patrol.
“Please pray for my wife,” Morgan said. “She has a long road to go.”