Sam Sullivan is a 2019 graduate from William Jewell College. While riding his bike home from his high school in the Summer of 2012, Sam was hit by a car.
The summer after freshman year, the football team and I would weightlift most mornings. I didn’t have a car yet, so I would have my dad drive me there with my bike in his truck, then I’d just bike back to my house.
I lived in the hilly areas of Shawnee, Kansas, and I was riding up a pretty steep hill maybe a mile or two from my house when I saw this car come to a stop sign at an intersection. I was pretty sure I had the right of way to cross, and I was going onto the sidewalk anyway.
I crossed, but the car pulled out and hit me. I rolled on top of the hood and fell off hard into the street.
I was a little disoriented and in shock. I didn’t know exactly what to do, so I just got up. My leg, mainly my knee, just didn’t feel right. The lady who hit me got out of her car and was asking me repeatedly if I was okay and offering help, as if she was concerned.
I actually tried to play it off, almost like it was my fault she hit me and totaled my bike. I was 15 and just didn’t know what was happening in the moment, probably because I was just hit by a car. She asked if I wanted to trade information and I said no, which was definitely the wrong thing to say. Then she left.
Another lady pulled up and offered to take me home while this was happening because my bike was twisted up and the front wheel was completely bent. So I said yes, and she loaded it up and brought me to my house, where I kind of chilled out for a while.
I was pretty much in shock for the rest of the day. When my mom called me on the phone to ask about my day, I told her nonchalantly about getting hit and she freaked out. I assured her I was fine, my knee just looked pretty bruised and I didn’t need her to rush home from work and that got her to calm down.
My dad had a slightly different reaction. He got really angry and immediately went looking for the woman who hit me. He found her car pretty quickly and not too far away by matching the color of paint from my bike to it. I wasn’t told what happened until much later.
Dad knocked on her door and told her she needed to pay for what she did. She then tried to passive-aggressively threaten my father and blame me for the accident, even mentioning having a “police officer friend.” This really set my dad off and he yelled at her to pay for my bike and that would be the end of it. Thankfully, she did or there probably would have been a court case and I didn’t want that.
I realize I was really lucky in the end, my knee recovered just fine and we got my bike fixed. I think about how differently that could have gone sometimes.
Now I know how to get hit by a car, even to the point of safely recreating it a couple of times for some video projects in school.