Author Archives: Dominic Sagar

A New Chapter

Yesterday, September 10th 2020, two and a half years after I was hit head-on on the highway, the person responsible, Nicolas Rader, was held accountable. I had moved on mentally a long time ago from wanting revenge or punishment. With that said, I think Rader has a chance to get off lightly. Many people seem to think that the person he is unlikely to meet his probation conditions.

He has a major restriction to deal with. No driving for three years without a license and a qualified medical professional’s written validation that he is fit to drive. This has to be updated every six-months. He has to pay restitution to the county for all claims submitted by me and the other victims. This is close to $9000. He also has a couple of $1000 in fines that the judge imposed. The judge seemed to listen to the statement I made in court and the effect the wreck has had on me. The judge was not impressed with the plea deal and imposed the highest fine amounts he was able to. He has a deferred judgment, by three years, on the major charge of vehicular assault which is a felony. He also pleaded guilt to careless driving which resulted in injury or death which is class 1 misdemeanor.

Here is the victim’s impact statement I wrote and read to the court:

Your honor, thank you for allowing me to make this statement. I have been waiting for this day for two and a half years since Rader’s actions put me in the hospital.

I added this paragraph on the fly as I listened to the defense attorney.
I want to start with, you cannot be diagnosed with CTE. It is only something that can be diagnosed post mortem. You cannot drive along I-225 for 3 or more miles while having a seizure.

That day started uneventfully; I had helped my wife in donating some items we no longer needed to a group that helps veterans. I had left our house and set off to my client’s office on a trip I had taken virtually every day for two years. I drove north on I-25 through the Denver Tech Center and exited north onto I-225. Right at the point that the north and southbound I-25 traffic merges and I-225 curves left to the north, the cars ahead of me scattered and swerved. Rader appeared, sideswiped the car ahead of me and ran head on into me. It seemed like he did it deliberately leaving the lane he was in to hit me. I thought that my life was over. I literally thought that this is it, I’m dead.

There was a massive explosion and then the sound of someone sobbing and gasping for breath. I was amazed to realize that the sound was me trying to breathe. Eventually, things calmed down and I could breathe. I could hear people outside. I was covered in glass and powder. The steering wheel on my car was pointing upward. My feet were trapped by the engine in the footwell. I hurt everywhere. People started to talk to me and assure me that the paramedics were on their way and asking me if they could do anything. When the firetrucks finally arrived, they had to use the jaws of life to get me out of the car. They asked me to crawl across to the passenger door, but I couldn’t because although I didn’t know it at the time, you’d broken my back. Finally, out of the car, they put me on a stretcher but told me I had to wait. You were getting the first ambulance because you looked in worse shape than me. Based on news reports, it seems you were out of the hospital and galivanting around long before I was. In the ambulance with the paramedic assessing my injuries, I knew things were bad when he took of my shoe and said, “That doesn’t look good”. He was right, you have left me with permanent reminders from a day where I did nothing wrong. At the hospital, I had to call my wife and tell her to come on over to see me. I’m okay but I’m not going to be moving under my own steam for a while.

I spent the next twelve hours being wheeled back and forth from x-rays, to CT scans, to MRI tunnels. Each person focused on a particular issue not realizing as the moved me around and bumped my feet that searing pain was shooting through the other injuries. You left me with a broken back, broken ribs, a broken breastbone, my heel broken off one foot, the other foot crushed looking like a deflated football, and with bruised lungs. In the time that has passed since then, a number of first responders have said how lucky I am to be alive. 

I spent the next 10 days in hospital much of it immobilized because of my spinal fractures until the neurosurgeons could determine the right course of treatment. I had surgery on my left heel to fix it back in place. I had two surgeries on my right foot one to stretch it out and a second to reconstruct it. I was on oxygen and breathing treatments because of what you did to my ribs and lungs. Everyone was worried that I would end up with pneumonia although I didn’t realize it at the time. I was put in the undignified position of needing to use a bed pan and be bathed like a child. My family had to see me looking like a wreck and in constant pain because of your actions. I would wake up in a cold sweat convinced that this was just a nightmare. I fought with a care giver because I disoriented by the pain medications I was on and was conviced they were doing me harm.

My next stop was the Spalding rehabilitation hospital. I was there to learn how to live life in a wheelchair until my injuries had healed enough to allow me to walk again. I had to learn how to use a board to get into and out of a car, into the bathtub, onto the toilet. My wife had to be an active partner in making adjustments to our home. A ramp to get in the house. Doors removed to get into rooms. The bed lowered so I could get on it. She became adept at hauling a 30lb wheelchair into and out of the car’s trunk and pushing 250lbs of me and wheelchair from place to place.

Our next weeks were spent with countless rounds of visits to see specialists for check-ups and assessments. The neurosurgeon for my back. The trauma surgeon for my chest. The orthopedic surgeon for me feet. This was all punctuated with my daily regimen of pain pills and the constant worry of addiction, along with a daily blood thinner injection into my stomach. Finally, some good news. I could stop taking blood thinners and start using a boot on my left leg to do some minimal walking around. The celebration was short-lived. I started feeling a big ache in my left leg which turned out to be a massive blood clot. Back on daily blood thinners with instructions to immediate go to the emergency room should I feel any shortness of breath or chest pain.

After six months I was out of casts, walking, and doing physical therapy. However, my right foot was painful and not healing as it should. In November, I returned to the hospital for more surgery on my right foot. Back on crutches again for another two months I was hobbled for Christmas and the new year. Skiing, my favorite winter pastime was out of the question. In January, back in a boot, my foot started to swell and discolor. Another trip to the emergency room proved that it was infected, and I was admitted to the hospital once again.

The infection resulted in more surgery to clean up the wound. A special pump that was attached to my foot to drain the wound, droned on and on for a week. This was followed by six-weeks of administering intravenous antibiotics on a daily basis. I have now been prescribed antibiotics for life all because of your actions.

I am reminded of what you did to me on a daily basis. When I get out of bed every morning, I can barely walk. Twelve months of physical therapy taught me the stretches and exercises I must do everyday to walk somewhat normally. My left ankle does not flex properly. I’m told it will need to be fused at some point. My right foot is rigid and numb. The fused bones send jolts of pain through my body if I step on something or don’t wear shoes. My breastbone sticks out at a funny angle because of the damage. I have chronic athlete’s foot from being cooped up in casts, braces, and compression socks for so long. If I drive or sit in a car for twenty minutes, I stiffen up and can barely walk when I get out.

Your actions that day had a massive financial impact. My hospital and medical expenses totaled over three quarters of a million dollars. We had to make major modifications to our house so that I could get in and out in a wheelchair. The majority of my pre-injury footwear has had to be replace with special shoes. I have to get extra wide and supportive shoes in order to be able to function. I had to get all new ski boots because my feet would no longer fit. During my time away from work, I lost out on promotions and bonuses having to remain gratefully that my job remained.

One of the things my family and I like to do is travel. The trips that we did have planned had to be canceled because you rammed into me. We had to give up a trip to Hawaii with friends that had been planned for years. We lost all that we had paid for that. Another trip to Europe to ride motorcycles with friends had to be foregone because I could not hold a motorcycle up to ride it. Now any trips come with a special worry. Will I have another DVT blood clot because I’m now prone to them? You have robbed me of some of the pleasure of traveling.

I have always been an athlete and active in sports. You have taken that away from me. I like to hike and run. I find it difficult to walk up hills these days because my ankle does not flex as it should. I find it difficult to run because my foot doesn’t work properly. The imbalances in my feet cause problems in my knees and hips making them hurt two. You have robbed me of the joy of team sports and competition.

I have never been a timid person but what you have done to me makes me anxious. Getting into a car, whether I’m driving, or a passenger gives me pause. My heart skips a beat when I see cars coming towards me in their own lane. I slow down more than I should when I’m approaching a bend I can’t quite see around. Driving to Aurora is a nightmare. As I pass through the Tech Center, my hands get clammy and my throat dries up. I can feel my adrenaline surging and it is not a good feeling.

I’m not sure who I intended this statement for, Nicholas Rader or his family. I don’t feel like anyone has taken responsibility for what happened to me on February 21st, 2018. I have heard of issues with traumatic brain injuries and the like. If you are suffering from them, I truly feel sorry for you. However, I doubt it because you’ve been found mentally competent to stand trial twice. Whether you have had them or not they are an excuse. Either you are using them shamefully to avoid taking responsibility for what you did. Or, your family is hiding behind them from the responsibility of knowingly giving you the keys to a weapon that you used to devastating effect on me. All I want to know is why me and so far, you, your family, and your legal counsel have denied me that.

Your honor, thank you once again for allowing me the time to share what Rader’s impact has been on me.

Alps ‘n’ Adriatic – Day 14 – July 21, 2017 – Zell-am-See to Thun

Grind it out

Apartements Julia

Saying goodbye to our residence in Zell-am-See

Today was basically a grind it out kind of day. Get from point A to point B in the allotted time. Today was probably the most stressful day of the whole trip for a number of reasons.

  1. I had to get to Thun before the motorcycle store closed
  2. I realized as I was riding that was this my first solo vehicle piloting a vehicle of any sort alone in Europe. I have never even driven a car or ridden a bicycle here
  3. I had to navigate several motorway, A-road, and B-road transitions.
  4. I also realized as I was riding that if I had a flat or other mechanical, all the tools I had relied on were now with Martyn and MacBean.

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Alps ‘n’ Adriatic – Day 13 – July 20, 2017 – Zell-am-See to Hallstatt

Salzburg Lakes

Today, Ibbo took us on one of his rides. It was a great ride. We had perfect temperatures all day. It was a little overcast in the morning, beautiful around lunch time, and we picked up a spot of rain on the last 30 minutes back into Zell.

Ibbo took us to a world heritage site in the Salzkammergut region of Austria about 120 kilometers north-east of Zell. It was designated because of its classical Austrian Alpine style and beauty. It was interesting to try and guess when we had reached the town on the way in. There were so many towns and villages that looked like Austria in the movies. On the way, Ibbo took us down a bunch of one-farm roads that came replete with the smell of freshly spread manure. It is great to see the old way of things still being done rather than the chemicals we cherish in the US. It took me back to my old days of living in Worsthorne.

Picture perfect

World heritage site – Hallstadt, Austria

We arrived in Hallstatt along with many others and had trouble finding parking. Then after hanging out by a parking attendant for five minutes Mac began to drive into the lot as one space had opened up when she looked at us dumbfounded and told us there was free parking at the bus station for motorcycles. We rode back, parked on the pavement, and hoped we wouldn’t get a ticket.

Main Street

Three likely lads out for a stroll.

Apparently, the town of Halstatt has been recreated in China. Consequently a large number of Chinese come to visit the town and see the original. It was interesting to watch one Asian man carrying $5000+ of camera gear around his neck pull out his phone and take a picture with it. The other ethnic group that visit this part of Austia are during the summer are the Arabs. It seems they take a break from the summer heat of the Middle East and decamp to the alps.

Lunch spot

Lunch in the shade

Either at breakfast or lunch, we discussed that we had not yet tried some Austrian baked goods. This complete ignored the fact that Julia and Carola had served us a wonderful apple cake for dessert the previous evening. After lunch, Ibbo took us on a route north to one of the other lakes in the region. It looks perfect for some water skiing but the only powerboats that we saw on the water were deathly quite electric boats.

Still lake

From here we headed southwest to a town with an incredible Konditorei. I had one of the cream filled pastries and tasted wonderful. It is basically the last day to ignore my diet. Martyn and Ibbo both chose something similar. Mac was being good. He declined the cake and had two scoops of ice cream and an iced coffee instead. I think we might all need Harleys the next time we ride.

A second on the lips

A wonderful selection of cakes

The ride back into Zell was great except for a little rain that caught us part way back. It has stopped by the time we arrived and we had mostly are dried. Then came the sad part of the trip, packing up the bike for the last time.

 

Alps ‘n’ Adriatic – Day 12 – July 19, 2017 – Bled to Zell-am-See

Tackling the Grossglockner

Leaving Bled, we jumped straight on the highway to head for the border. On the way into Austria is a newly completed tunnel that is over 7.8 kilometers in length. We were ready for it this time and had not put on our sunglasses so we could see in the tunnel. Inside it was hot and humid. My bike was registering 32 degrees Celsius or 90 degrees in real money.

At the border, I was sure I was going to get pulled aside. The border guard went through my passport from front to back 3 times. Then got up and left his building only to return a minute later and stamp my passport.

Once in Austria, we headed for the Grossglockner. The spur-road to the top and the pass are some one of the highest in Europe. Not only that, the Grossglockner is the longest glacier in Europe.

We had lunch at the top overlooking the glacier. The people from Wisconsin would be disappointed. The Austrians have created a sausage wrapped in bacon with cheese in the middle. I'm told cheese and savage should always be kept separate.

After lunch, we went downe the spur road an off over the pass. At the top of the pass is a cobbled road with its own set of hairpin turns that goes all the way to the top. Needless to say, we road it all the way up and stopped for a coffee.

More hairpins to do on the way down into Zell-am-See. You could see Zell-am-See from the top of the Grossglockner and pretty soon we are winding our way through the town to arrive at Ibbo's

We were greeted by Carola, Ibbo's wife, when we arrived. Martyn has known Ibbo for close to 30-years, having met him in the Lake District and subsequently gone to work for him at Cummins. She showed us into the apartment reserved for us and we began to unpack. Their daughter Julia also came by and said high with the broadest of Yorkshire accents having lived in Halifax for a time.

As I was unpacking my bike, up drove Ibbo. Assuming who it was, I went over to introduce myself and got the biggest surprise. I was expecting an accent but not one from West Yorkshire, “Hullo, I'm Paul. I've been reading your blog”. Ibbo was not some European name but a contraction on his last name Ibbotson. I had not put two and two together that was from Halifax and a grand lad with the unfortunate luck of being from the wrong side of the border. He was also nowhere near as old as I expected for a retiree.

Having got in reasonably early we took Mac off to the ER to get his ear checked out. He still could not hear and was running out of olive oil drops.

This time the doctor at the clinic got him sorted by removing ten pounds of wax using a high-pressure washer. This time it did not cost him anything it a was all charged to his EU health card. Good look with that after Brexit. Martyn, Ibbo, and I filled our time at the bar overlooking the See.

The Ibbostson's invited us to dinner at their place above the apartment. They prepared a fantastic Mexican salad, think 7 layer dip but healthy, with steak, and sausage with some lovely cheeses. Dessert was a delicious apple cake. The views from their balcony are stunning.

If you are looking for a place to stay in Zell-am-See, I can highly recommend Apartements Julia. Their website is http://www.appartementszellamsee.com. You may not get invited to dinner but you will have friendly hosts and a wonderful place to hang out with great views.

 

Alps ‘n’ Adriatic – Day 11 – July 18, 2017 – Lake Bled

The Hunt for Red Sparkling Wine

The day started well with a local man setting up a stall of breakfast breads, pastries, yogurt and milk at the camp bar. We tried three of stuffed S-shaped roles with meat and cheese. The intent was on each. We barely finished two between us as they so rich and we had a food hang-over from the meat last night.

Today was another non-ATGATT day with us heading into Bled to look at the town and swim in the lake. The plan was to drive the backroad not the town as we had on the way to camp last night. I immediately last Mac and Martyn as they turned off onto the highway route. I spent the next 10 minutes riding into town convinced they were riding like nutcases to be so far ahead of me. I road around the lake, pulled into a parking lot and pulled out my phone to see them coming into town the other way.

We found a shady spot on the shore of Lake Bled and set up camp. I can assure everyone I did not look in anyway like these two.

The view across the lake was amazing and MacBean recalled going to dinner at a restaurant near the church where he'd been served a local, blood red sparkling wine. We determined to pick some up along with some ice in a pannier and try it out. At lunch we asked the waiter about the wine but he had know idea. He suggested it was perhaps in former communist Yugoslavia.

After lunch, we walked back to notice the bikes adorned with new stickers. We had all got parking tickets. Mac and Martyn swore the no parking cone had not been there when we arrived. I had seen it but it did not register as no parking as I have been away son long.

After lunch, we had another swim and Mac and Martyn took time to play on the swing. This was after MacBean had already got the swing caught up in the tree so no one could use it. It took us a good five minutes to try and knock it out before an athletic young lad jumped up and got it.

Notice the look from the chap in the real speedo behind Mac

Here is a lad who knows how to get some air

After swimming, we went looking for the wine and to no avail. It appears to be a furtive MacBean imagination. This along with me working for Hollands Pies in Baxenden

Back at camp, we were served another huge dinner. We asked for the schnitzel but were served pretty much the same as the day before just with more vegetables and salad.

That night two German bikers showed up in camp on on a new Guzzi Stelvio. The other, Mullet-Man on an ancient R1. Martyn threatened to grow a mullet for the business up front and party behind when he retires. He asked if I would but I opted for dreads.

 

Alps ‘n’ Adriatic – Day 10 – July 17, 2017 – Zadar to Bled

Lake Bled

The ride up to Bled was tough. The winds blowing across the highway were really strong and the wind socks on the bridges were all horizontal. It didn’t help that the highway climbed a considerable distance in a short space to get over the mountains into the interior. Even there, the wind did not seem to let up until we hit Slovenia.

The main reason for choosing Lake Bled as a destination was that it is a reasonable ride to the Grossglockner, one of the highest roads in Europe. Another is that MacBean has promised us blood red sparkling wine, a la method champenois. We had spotted Lake Bled camping on their website and it looked great. When we arrived they were fully booked but they sent us to Camping Picun in Lipcne just out of town. This gave me a chance to try the Garmin eTrex in full on mode. It got us to Lipcne without problems via backgrounds and villages. When we arrived there were a couple of other new arrivals by the site was empty. We got a prime spot in the corner.

Looking around the views were amazing until you realized there was a big steel works across the valley.

Also when you looked at the inviting lake down below, beckoning you for a swim, you determined that there really did not seem to be any life in or on the water. I figured it would be okay if we did not stir up any sediment. We did find some interesting neighbors over the fence.

The next problem was food. We had found the bar or at least made them open the bar so that was one problem solved. Then we were asked if we wanted to dinner the choices were barbecue or schnitzel. Martyn ordered the barbecue for us, I said I would have prefer the schnitzel until I saw what came. As surprising as it may seem, we could not finish this between us.

After dinner, we partook of the local Slovenian schnapps. Mac was reluctant until our host brought out black current schnapps. He the pointed out that this was for quote Die Damen

All in all it was another great day out riding. The other thing that happened was we finally got the camp radio sounding good.

 

Alps ‘n’ Adriatic – Day 9 – July 16, 2017 – Zadar to Uglian to Biograd na Moru

Non-ATGATT day

I learned a new acronym today, ATGATT. It stands for all the gear, all the time. Today was another non-ATGATT day. With no armored gear, we rode into Zadar to get the ferry to the island of Uglian, just off the coast. Mac and I lost Martyn at one point as he rode down a pedestrian mall. We'd just missed the ferry when we arrived so we got to hang for a while and watch the view.

Once on the island, we rode to the most northerly point, wandered through an other pedestrian zone and then turned around to head south. The island was beautiful with some amazing and new houses. There has been a lot of EU investment there over the last few years. The main road actually has a bridge that links the north and south islands built with EU funds.

There is a lot of money coming to the island. We were blasted by a number of big Germany luxury cars, all with Slovenian plates. Lunch was a little fishing village down by the water.

Right next door to the restaurant was a cute little church.

Behind the church was a grave yard which had enormous family plots. They could easily have measured 6 by 8 feet with a large 4 foot high sarcophagus above. Each headstone had pictures of those interred before they had died

After lunch we rode into Tkon to take the ferry back to the mainland 20 kilometers or so south of Zadar at Biograd na Moru. I am sure that this is city named during the Tito era to attract Soviet visitors. While waiting we found ice cream and I promised to salt it it for Charlie.

For dinner, we tried the campsite restaurant but that did not excite us so we used Yelp to find a place around the corner. It was called the Sunshine Cafe. It really should have been the sunset cafe.

 

Alps ‘n’ Adriatic – Day 8 – July 15, 2017 – Medveja to Zadar

Oh, what a road

We took the coast road from Medveja to Zadar and it was amazing. When we got through Rejeka, we were a little worried that we had stumbled into the first weekend of holiday traffic. We were stuck in a miles long traffic jam. After a while, we did what the local bikers did and filtered along the white line until we got to the cause of the back up which was a huge motorcycle fire.

Once we got on the coast road proper, we were treated to an amazing road with turn after turn that hugged the coast line. The only spoilers were a few cars who tootled along and held everybody back until they could get past on the few straight aways.

Lunch was at a roadside cafe in a no-name town. For the third day in a row, I had seafood of one kind or another, an octopus salad. It was amazing how soft and delicious it was. Nothing like the rubber feel from octopus in the states.

Once we were set up at camp in Zadar, Martyn made the obligatory beer run and turned up with the original Budweiser. I guess Anheiser Busch InBev does not have the whole market any more.

We took a taxi into old town Zadar for dinner and crossed through the outer walls into the old city.

The buildings around the squares and churches were beautiful. They were a great mix of ancient and opulent early 1900s.

We found a place out on the wharf for dinner and were treated to an amazing sunset. We did not see this in Medveja as it was on a east facing cove.

After dinner, we strolled along the wharf and found an outdoor concert playing to a large crowd. It was a Johnny Cash cover band at the time sounded great. It is always good to sing along to songs you know and they did throw in a couple of 80s and 90s songs, not from Johnny. On reflection and listening to the short video clips we recorded, they probably were not all that great. Beer can make lots of things sound good.

 

Alps ‘n’ Adriatic – Day 7 – July 14, 2017 – Medveja to Opatija

Easy day in town

Today was a do nothing vacation day to soak up the Croatian sun and enjoy life. Martyn started the day industriously cleaning his radiator with his tooth brush. He did clean his teeth first. The good news is that it fixed the overheating issue he was having.

Martyn and I took a quick ride into town to refresh his toothbrush and find soap for me as I'd left it in Cortina. The pink rose petal soap is not really my thing but the best I could do.

While in town we found a great little restaurant for coffee and decided to bring Mac back for lunch. The scampi were excellent.

The waiter tried to persuade us we needed a bigger fish for the three of us. It was plenty and just like the shrimp, outstanding.

We spent the afternoon by the beach after I'd found some rubber beach shoes. Flips flops did not work in the water and the beach was impossible to walk along without footwear.

For dinner, we found a little shack at the end of the beach serving seafood, local specialties, and cheap beer. It was not until later that we realized it was a food truck in disguise