Jones gets second chance at life

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 9, 2004

AHOSKIE – Four years ago, Hertford County native Rodney Keith Jones was test-driving a motorcycle for his brother in hopes that he would be able to purchase it in time for the two of them to ride down to Myrtle Beach, for the infamous Bike Week gathering, when a freak accident nearly took his life.

Thirty-two years old at the time and in the prime of his life, the 20-year veteran rider who learned the art from his mother and father remembers having an uneasy feeling about test-driving the vehicle prior to the accident.

&uot;My brother had seen the bike for sale for about one to two weeks before stopping by to inquire about it,&uot; he explained. &uot;He wanted me to go with him and test it to confirm its condition, so we went through the routine questions asking if there was anything wrong with it and such.&uot;

Jones continued, &uot;I thought it was too good to be true because the bike was being sold for only $1,200 and it was practically brand new, so I asked the guy what was wrong with it. My cousin had test driven it a week or so before and said there was something wrong with the throttle, which was supposed to be fixed, but the guy claimed he didn’t know anything about it because he was selling it for someone else. &uot;

A little leery of the situation, Jones put on his helmet. &uot;I usually don’t tie my chinstrap, but this time I had a funny feeling about it,&uot; he said. &uot;I even contemplated not riding it at all because when I turned my back I saw him fiddling with something near the throttle and when I asked him what he was doing, he denied doing anything, but it made me uncomfortable and for a moment I though about not riding it.&uot;

However, Jones eventually succumbed and mounted the CBR 900. Taking off carefully, he remembers driving down Parker Avenue in Ahoskie, over the railroad tracks towards New Ahoskie Baptist Church.

&uot;I hit first gear, then second and all of a sudden I heard the throttle pop and the gas went straight to the carburetor,&uot; he said. &uot;The front of the bike raised up in the air and did a wheelie. I went around the first curve and tried to prevent from wrecking it, still increasing in speed.

&uot;Down in front of me, there were two vehicles in the road and I tried to go around them. I tried to stop by using the emergency kill, but it didn’t work.&uot;

In a final effort to come to a stop, Jones attempted something no biker ever wants to have to do.

&uot;I tried to lay the bike down,&uot; he said in sober recollection, but by this time the speed had increased from a modest 25 miles per hour to 115 miles per hour and he knew it wouldn’t be an easy task.

Still gripping tight to the handlebars, Jones’ made a valiant attempt to lay the bike down, and accidentally caught his tire on the curb propelling him in the air some 80 plus feet slamming him into a nearby house and landing the motorcycle about 75 feet away from his body.

&uot;I remember everything, though I didn’t feel any pain because the impact was so hard it numbed my body,&uot; he said. &uot;I landed on my back/side, rolled over and lay on my face, the impact hitting me primarily on my arm and leg, but the helmet didn’t even crack.&uot;

Strangely enough, moments after Jones had wiped out on the bike, a good friend/cousin, who was serving as a police officer at the time, was in the area and rushed to his assistance. Thinking, initially, that he was someone else, he began talking to him. &uot;He said, ‘don’t move Dominique.’ I told him who I was and when he got on the walkie-talkie to request back up, I asked him to tell me how bad I was, but all he said was, ‘you’re fine, just don’t move.’

&uot;I asked him if he would please remove my helmet because I felt like I couldn’t breathe, but he said, ‘you know I can’t do that, just stay still.’ Twice I begged him not to let me die like this and asked him to call my momma, while he knelt beside me holding my hand.

&uot;He reassured me he would find her and let her know what had happened and at that time, I heard the ambulance,&uot; he said.

&uot;I felt the EMS personnel putting my limbs in air casts and placing me in the emergency vehicle just before they called East Care and at that time, I passed out until I awoke in the emergency room at Roanoke-Chowan Hospital.

&uot;When they were transporting me to Pitt Memorial, I remember talking to a nurse named Amy and telling her to please not let me die. In the background I could hear people screaming. I remember looking up and seeing the propellers spinning above me and hearing Amy’s voice as she told me, ‘you’re not going to die,’ then I passed out.&uot;

&uot;Amy told me that Rodney had stopped breathing 15 minutes before the helicopter landed at Pitt Memorial,&uot; interjected mother Jackie Yvonne Allen.

&uot;They did an emergency tracheotomy and placed him in critical care. The doctors gave us updates on his condition, reporting a decrease in his blood pressure and not expecting him to make it the next 24 hours. I never got to see him that night. They also told me they had to release the pressure in his right leg because it was swelling so bad they thought he would lose it.&uot;

She continued, &uot;He was in intensive care, breathing with the help of a respirator and was in a coma for approximately 40 or more days. During that time we did a lot of praying and played spiritual music even though he couldn’t respond as a means of encouragement.&uot;

In the accident, Jones sustained injuries to his right leg, which suffered a broken femer, broken nose, split pelvis in four places, broken right brachial plexis (potion of the upper arm between the elbow and shoulder), broken left forearm (resulting in compromised radial motion in his left arm), ruptured bladder and collapsed lungs as well as having knocked off his left tibia (left ankle).

&uot;The only think holding on was the skin and veins,&uot; said Jones pointing to the scarred area now an inch and a half shorter than his other ankle.

Despite being in the hospital recovering from November 9, 2000 to April 1, 2001 and undergoing 37 surgeries in the past four years, Jones has not lost heart.

&uot;I try to be positive,&uot; he said, &uot;but this hasn’t been an easy walk. There are difficult days where the pain and aches come, and there has been extensive physical therapy and days in the beginning where I could not wash myself and had to wear diapers, but I don’t want to hide any of that because a lot of people have to go through this.&uot;

Jones expressed gratitude for the support of his family and friends during his recovery stating, &uot;My mother and a very close friend of mine were by my side for five out of the six months that I was in the hospital.

&uot;They took turns working day and night to make sure everything was taken care of the way it needed to be because there’s a shortage of nurses and you don’t get the best of care if you don’t have family around you.

&uot;I cannot express how deep an appreciation I have for that special friend. I thank God for everything they did to help me recover and I will always have a special place in my heart for them.&uot;

&uot;My mom and this special friend gave me baths, fed me, changed my diapers, combed my hair, shaved me and offered up a lot of prayers on my behalf. She prayed so much that people started coming up to her and asking her to pray for them because she was ‘praying miracles’ and they saw the results of her prayers in my recovery.

&uot;She stayed with me day and night and gave up her duties as a wife and the responsibilities with the house to take care of me and I thank God for that. A lot of people probably couldn’t have done that for me.&uot;

And Jones knows how fortunate he is to have that kind of support. &uot;When I was going to physical therapy, some of the doctors told me I would never walk again and tried to convince my mother to put me in a nursing home, but she rebuked them and wouldn’t hear of it,&uot; he said. &uot;She told me I had to be positive to get through this.&uot;

&uot;It wasn’t easy for me, my husband Michael or the family to have to go through each day,&uot; said Allen, &uot;but I asked God to give me strength to accept what had happened and prayed every day for my son to be able to be the best he could be. I still thank God for him being alive.&uot;

&uot;Those times were so hard I cried day and night,&uot; said Jones. &uot;I was in and out of depression because I felt I would never recover and all of this because of someone else’s stupidity. I was angry because it probably could have been prevented if the truth had been told,&uot; he said. &uot;I thought about taking revenge, but I knew that would be wrong, so I kept asking God to help me forgive.&uot;

Jones went through rehab, still unable to stand or walk. His family arranged for a hospital bed to be brought to the house and with their help, the help of that special friend and Quality Staffing home health care agency, he began to re-learn how to function.

&uot;I started with a wheelchair, then graduated to a walker, then a four-prong hemi-walker, then a cane, then nothing,&uot; he said, &uot;and four years after the accident, I’m still striving to become better each day, to make my life more complete to a point where I can feel whole again, emotionally. I’ve had lots of ups and downs and have lost a lot of friends and gained new ones and some people reading this article may think this is a ploy to hurt them, but it’s not.

&uot;Everyone makes mistakes, but God forgives for those and everyone does stupid things and God will forgive for those too. My purpose in doing this is to let the world to know that I don’t harbor hatred anymore.&uot;

He continued, &uot;It’s not for people to feel sorry for me either or to put anyone down, but to let people know that accidents like this can happen to anybody. Don’t think it can’t happen to you, because it can.

&uot;I rode for over 20 years thinking I couldn’t get hurt, but I want to remind people, especially young people who ride motorcycles, to be extremely careful. You have a lot of life to live and a lot to live for.&uot;

Jones attributed his progress to the provision and blessing of God and looks with hope towards the future.

&uot;I am currently in the process of getting a CD off the ground, for those people who know that I sing,&uot; he said smiling. &uot;I’m still singing, still writing and still funny and I am always going to keep a smile on my face as long as I can.&uot;

Jones is the father of three biological children and soon to be the official stepfather to his fianc\u00E9’s two children.

&uot;I have to keep being strong and take care of my family,&uot; he said.

And in an effort to regain that strength, Jones recently underwent 10-hours worth of reconstructive surgery on his right arm to rebuild the network of blood vessels and restore the use of his limb.

&uot;My recovery and the support I have from family and friends has given me a more positive outlook that things are going to get better,&uot; he said. &uot;My fianc\u00E9, Adrianne is an extra special woman and I am forever thankful to her for putting up with me through my emotional highs and lows.&uot;

He expressed a particularly deep appreciation for the efforts put forth by his parents and siblings. &uot;I can never thank them enough for standing by me through these struggles or for all they’ve done for me,&uot; he said.

&uot;Even the arguments and disagreements with my brothers (Terrance &uot;Hurt&uot; Mitchell and Elrod Jones) have helped me to keep my sense of humor and I will always be grateful to all of those people, whether immediate family, extended family or friends who sacrificed your time and energy to help me.

&uot;For the ones who remember the accident, I hope this taught you a great lesson that motorcycles are dangerous and for those who have loved ones in this or similar situations, please don’t turn your back on them, always maintain a positive outlook.&uot;

Jones is 36 years old and currently resides in Richmond.

He is planning to marry his fianc\u00E9 in 2005 and has recently been accepted to John Tyler Community College where he will major in mortuary science in hopes of working with the state medical examiners office. He is also writing a book about his experience entitled, &uot;Second Chance at Life.&uot;