Local ride dedicated to injured cyclist

Becky Vargo • May 18, 2017 at 10:00 AM

SPRING LAKE — Terry Welsh said he was terrified the first time he got on a bicycle two months ago, after almost being killed in a crash in Muskegon last fall.

The Muskegon man hasn’t been home much since being hospitalized after a car struck him on Oct. 28, 2016.

An avid cyclist, the former Nunica resident and Spring Lake High School graduate was honored in the local Ride of Silence, which took place Wednesday evening at Spring Lake’s Central Park.

Family members attired in “Comin’ in Hot” T-shirts were emotional as Welsh’s daughter, Lizz, read a short statement from her father. “Comin’ in Hot” is the saying Lizz would use when her father needed some motivation to keep him moving in a positive direction.

“It’s been a long, very hard recovery,” Welsh said before the ride. “When I woke up, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t talk, I couldn’t eat.”

He was finally able to go home for a short visit this past weekend.

Welsh’s wife, Jill, said her husband was extremely safety conscious. Despite taking all safety precautions possible, and riding next to a police car through an intersection, Welsh was hit by a driver who was trying to beat the light, Jill said. That vehicle swerved to miss the police car, but struck Welsh broadside.

Welsh (who turns 51 on Sunday) suffered a traumatic brain injury, ruptured spleen, several broken ribs, an open arm fracture, and many cuts and scrapes, Jill said.

“Medically, he is doing well,” she said. “Mentally, he’s kind of like a kid.”

It’s been a long winter for the orthopedic nurse, who has gone to part time so she can visit her husband frequently at Hope Network in Grand Rapids. And it was hard for their son, Ben, to leave in mid-December for the Air Force.

Jill credits their 16-year-old daughter, Lizz, a student at Western Michigan Christian High School, for keeping her sane. They also have two other children, Erin, the oldest, and Ryan.

“Lizzy is one in a million,” Jill said. “I couldn’t do it without her.” 

Welsh’s prognosis is a “wait and see” kind of thing, Jill said.

“Will he ever drive again?” she asked. “Time will tell. He’ll never go back to work (as a unit control operator for Consumers Energy).”

But he might get to go home in early July.

“Lots of accommodations need to be made at the house,” she said. “Fortunately, they will be covered by insurance.”

Jill said insurance is also covering the majority of the medical bills. What’s not being covered are the hours she no longer works and the cost of frequent traveling to and from the hospital.

Donations to a Go Fund Me page have dwindled, but Jill said she is thankful for all the prayers and help.

You can donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/HelpTerryWelsh.

“I’ve sold our fifth-wheel,” she said. “Who knows when we’ll go camping again.”

Welsh said that he was overwhelmed by the turnout at Wednesday night’s ride. He said that he was excited to do the ride and looking forward to going home.

He’s still working on a bad balance problem and has issues with his memory, although he can hold a conversation with no problem.

The Ride of Silence is an international event. The mission of the worldwide ride is to honor bicyclists killed by motorists, promote sharing the road and provide awareness of bicycling safety.

Local organizer Mark Stoll said that, despite progress being made with education, there are still a lot of “statistics” out there. He encouraged everyone to watch out for each other.

T-shirts were sold prior to the event as a fundraiser. 

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