MORRISTOWN - Belmont County resident Mary Ann Droll always told her husband, Tim, he should wear a helmet whenever he drove his Victory Vision motorcycle. Nearly a year ago, he learned he should heed his wife's advice.
Mary Ann said it was early on May 11 when three deer crossed the path of Tim's motorcycle as he drove to work at the Lowe's Home Improvement Store at the Ohio Valley Plaza for a 5 a.m. shift. The incident happened at about 4:30 a.m. as Tim entered Lloydsville traveling east along National Road - just 1.25 miles from the couple's home in the Belmont-Morristown area. He survived the serious accident with just a severely sprained ankle and a cut on his forehead "that didn't require a stitch," Mary Ann said.
Tim Droll, then 61 - and a motorcycle rider since his teens - practically never wore a helmet unless he was riding in a state that required them, according to his wife. He now has a new bike, a Victory Crossbow trike, and a new helmet - and he wears his helmet every time he rides the motorcycle, she said.
Tim Droll’s Victory Vision motorcycle after it was wrecked when he hit a group of three deer in Lloydsville on May 11.
"We have to protect the head God gave us," Mary Ann said. "It is such a bad thing to fall from that distance. It's not that far - but you can fall, crack your head and open it instantly. A helmet is a means of protection. Every state should have a helmet law.
"I wish Ohio would put a law into effect," she added. "There was a time when Tim would only wear them in states that have a helmet law."
In Ohio, only those under the age of 17 are required to wear motorcycle helmets, and this same rule applies to those in neighboring Indiana, according to information from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In Pennsylvania and Kentucky, riders under the age of 20 must wear helmets.
West Virginia Code, meanwhile, requires all riders to have helmets. This is also the law in Maryland and Virginia.
Tim told his wife after the accident that he opted to wear his helmet that morning because "it was chilly." Mary Ann said he drives his motorcycle to work almost every day unless there is ice or snow on the roads. On extremely cold days, he would wear the helmet only as a means to keep his toboggan in place.
As he traveled National Road that morning, the smallest deer fell onto the pavement toward the motorcycle and the bike ran over it - dragging it "for yards down the road," she said. At the same time, the two larger deer struck the bike at its right front and rear, causing it to skid left and out of control.
"I thank God for the design of that bike," Mary Ann said. "The fairings and the crash bars surely protected my husband from being ripped to shreds. ... And after skidding and tossing wildly along yards of roadway, the bike - and its alive driver - finally stopped against the guardrail of the opposite traffic lane. Again, I thank God that there was not a bit of oncoming traffic."
She added that his helmet was pulled from his head, scraping a sizable patch of skin from his forehead - "but only after it had protected his head from the dark, hard pavement."
Pieces of the motorcycle lay scattered on the road and over the hill beyond the guardrail, she noted.
Tim refused treatment by medical personnel responding to the scene, and both he and the remains of the motorcycle were brought home by a tow truck driver two hours later, she said.
Mary Ann said most mornings she would see her husband off to work and say a prayer for his safety on the road.
That early morning, though, she had continued sleeping and was not aware of the accident. She was startled when she heard the door open at 6:30 a.m. - and saw her husband bleeding from the forehead.
"The first thing he told me was, 'I was wearing a helmet,'" Mary Ann said. "He knew to tell me, because never wore one and I always told him he should.
"He said he put it on that morning because 'it was chilly.' I told him, 'No, God put that on you because he knew what was waiting for you down the road.' I knew God had heard all those prayers I had said for him, and he answered them that day. I knew. I knew it was a miracle."