KEEP YOUR HEAD UP
Pedestrian struck by cyclist spends week in hospital
KAILUA-KONA — Ray Jensen never heard the cyclist, and apparently the cyclist never saw him. Jensen, 58, walked north on the mauka side of Queen Kaahumanu Highway on the morning of July 21. He was in the area of the Kealakehe Police Station in Kailua-Kona on his way to Honokohau Harbor to board a dolphin tour boat when a man on a bike crashed into him seemingly out of nowhere.
“He rammed right into the back of me and flipped over,” Jensen said Thursday afternoon from his second-floor hospital bed at Kona Community
Hospital. “I had a tire mark over my back and on my side here.”
It took Jensen nearly 10 minutes to regain his footing and his wits. Companions of the rider who struck Jensen, casual cyclists out for a pleasure pedal, offered to call a cab or an ambulance. Jensen said he was hurting, but he could stand and he could think, so he wanted to continue on to the harbor.
The middle-aged man who struck Jensen hung back, offering an apology but not much more. Because at the time Jensen didn’t realize the extent of his injuries, he didn’t press for the man’s name or any other information.
“I asked him, ‘ Hey, did you not see me?’” Jensen said. “He said, ‘Sorry, I was looking down.’”
The only reason Jensen was walking that morning is because the part-time dishwasher and parttime sales clerk at Macy’s currently doesn’t have car insurance.
“Most people would just drive anyway,” said former Kona radio personality Mike Gardner, who is close with Jensen. “Not Ray.”
Tina Clothier is the executive director of People’s Advocacy Trails Hawaii (PATH). Her organization is hoping to eventually extend the Queens’ Lei trail system through the exact spot of Jensen’s collision, but that portion of the trail is still years away from being realized.
PATH’s advocacy is heavily safety-focused, but it’s typically cyclists and pedestrians jogging or walking the organization is hoping to protect from motor vehicles. She said serious incidents between cyclists and those traversing the island on foot are much less common.
“That situation is, in all my recollection, highly unusual, especially there because the shoulders are so wide (on the mauka side),” she said.
There are riding/ walking protocols on trails, like the one PATH hopes to build all around the island, that have more room than highway shoulders and allow for easier communication further away from the sound of zipping traffic.
No path yet to protect him, Jensen dusted himself off, finished his walk and took his ocean tour. But his condition worsened as the day wore on.
He accepted a ride to the Target store in KailuaKona from some fellow oceangoers he met on the boat. He planned to charge his phone, get groceries and make his way back to the land he’s leasing in Holualoa where he’s building a small home.
Jensen was making his way into Target when he collapsed. Fortunately for him, a ride to the hospital was right there waiting.
An ambulance had been called to the store for a separate emergency, but the person involved in that incident didn’t require transport. Jensen, who found out later he had suffered two broken ribs and a ruptured spleen earlier that morning, did.
He spent the next five days in the intensive care unit before being moved to a standard room on the second floor. He said Thursday that he was hopeful he’d be released by the end of the week.
The incident caused Jensen inconvenience beyond the scope of pain. He has no medical insurance, but his bills will be covered retroactively by Medicaid. Both businesses he worked at told him not to worry about his respective jobs.
But Jensen is building a small home, one that is not yet completed, but one in which he currently lives, nonetheless. It has a sleeping loft, and he’s concerned about that arrangement until he more fully heals.
He owns a Jeep, but can barely make the payments, and thus has no means to pay for insurance and no transportation. Walking everywhere will be difficult in the coming weeks. Jensen’s family lives on the mainland.
A social worker stopped by the hospital room Thursday to drop off paperwork so Jensen might apply for temporary disability insurance to help him make ends meet until he can go back to work. He said the social worker is unsure if he will qualify.
Not a litigious person, Jensen said he isn’t looking now to sue. Gardner, however, said Jensen deserves some generosity, as he has always been generous himself.
Jensen made an unsolicited offer two years ago to be an organ donor for Gardner, who is need of a kidney. After an examination, doctors determined Jensen was not an ideal candidate.
As he pondered how he’ll navigate the difficult weeks to come, Jensen offered a succinct piece of parting advice to cyclists and walkers.
“Just keep your head up,” he said.
Ray Jensen in good spirits at Kona Community Hospital on Thursday afternoon, six days after being struck by a cyclist while walking on Queen Kaahumanu Highway in Kailua-Kona.