KEEP YOUR HEAD UP

Pedes­trian struck by cy­clist spends week in hospi­tal

West Hawaii Today - - Front Page - BY MAX DIBLE WEST HAWAII TO­DAY mdi­ble@west­hawai­ito­day.com

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.

Jensen

MAX DIBLE/

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.

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