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Cyclist’s progress shows 1 year after near-fatal wreck

May 22, 2012

By NATHAN GREGORY
sdnreporter@yahoo.com

Today, you wouldn’t be able to see any signs of the trauma Jan Morgan endured after she was struck and nearly killed by a motorist one year ago.

Morgan, who was riding her bike in Clay County on May 22, 2011 when she was hit, was placed in a medically induced coma for six weeks and went through extensive therapy afterward.

Robbie Norton, the driver who struck Morgan, was found guilty April 4 of simple assault in Clay County Circuit Court. She was fined $250, given a six-month suspended jail sentence and ordered to make a public service announcement for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.

Morgan’s husband, David, said she has made great strides in her recovery.

“She’s doing much better than I ever expected,” David said. “A year ago today, if you told me that she was going to be able to have a conversation with me or even be here I would not have been able to be assured of that because I didn’t know.”

Jan Morgan said she has completed therapy and is relieved that things are close to being back to normal.

“I would not say it’s 100 percent. I can still tell there are some deficits, but for day-to-day stuff, routine stuff, it really doesn’t affect me,” she said. “Sometimes if I’ve got a difficult problem or a lot going on, mentally I’m not quite as quick.”

Jan Morgan said the reason she was able to recover as well as she has is through her husband’s support.

“He was just amazing through all this. It helps that he is a doctor, so he knew a lot going in. I think he made some suggestions during the critical times with me that may have made a big difference, but certainly since I have had memory he knew what to do and encouraged me to do the right things even if I got mad at him,” Jan Morgan said. “He has been a tremendous security blanket and source of support.”

Though David Morgan said he doesn’t want his wife hitting the road on her bike anymore, he’s been surprised with how minimal the reminders of her accident are.

“The fact that a few weekends ago she participated in a mountain bike race (is telling of her progress). She still hasn’t gotten on the road, and I don’t think I want her to get on the road — I don’t want to get on the road anymore. Psychologically, it’s still scary to do it,” he said. “Now I would say I am about the only person that would know if she has any deficits or not. No one else could tell. She is so close to being back to normal that I only know the subtle things that are a little bit different.”

Jan Morgan recently went to Jackson and participated in the Ride of Silence, an annual 6.2-mile slow ride held nationwide in memory of cyclists who have been killed and in honor of those who have recovered. She said the experience was a positive one.

“It was an opportunity to open a dialogue between cyclists and motorists about sharing the road. There are rules (motorists) should go by, and there are rules (cyclists) should go by. We all need to do our part,” she said. “It’s like my husband said: When somebody is killed, it’s tragic, but people talk about it for a day or two and they move on. Because I was a survivor and I continue to talk about it, I can just keep pushing it in people’s faces and say ‘Be aware. We’re here. It happened to me,’ and I think that’s a good thing.”

Despite what she went through just to be able to live a normal life again and get back to work as owner of Boardtown Bikes, Jan Morgan said she’s eager to start her next challenge.

“I’m going to start at Ole Miss Law School next week, so that’s going to be my next adventure just to see if I can actually do it,” she said. “I think before I maybe had the mental wherewithal, and now because I have the cognitive problems I don’t know if I can do it, but I’m going to go give it a try and that will be a good focus to exercise my brain.”

Though she had to suffer a great deal, Jan Morgan said she’s seen several positives come as a result of her experience.

“I think because of the publicity we got and because of the fact that I survived, it tended to stay on people’s minds, so public awareness has probably been prolonged,” she said. “We’ve got all the 3-foot signs up (in Starkville). I have noticed that motorists are more tolerant of cyclists (and) cyclists are more cautious.”

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