By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
Keizer’s John Henry Maurice had plans to compete in some bicycle competitions this summer.
Those plans appear to be on hold for now, as the main emphasis for the 59-year-old is recovery.
As a result, longtime friend Carolyn Homan could be making changes to her usual Friday plans.
Maurice was riding his 30-speed road bike near Antelope in Central Oregon on the evening of March 14 when he was struck by a drunk driver.
According to a report from the Oregon State Police, 56-year-old Melissa Brooke Herz was driving a 2007 Toyota Tundra and pulling a trailer westbound on Highway 218 in Wasco County when the right side of her pickup hit Maurice.
Herz left the scene and later stopped on Highway 97. A trooper noticed a mirror was broken off and later saw a mirror at the crash scene. Herz was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants, failure to perform the duties of a driver, reckless driving and second-degree assault.
Maurice, meanwhile, was taken to St. Charles Madras and later flown to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend. His wife, Joanne Heilinger, has traveled to Bend to be with him three times since the accident, mostly around her work schedule at the Salem Kroc Center.
Heilinger said the injuries have included four broken ribs on the left side, several breaks in his lower left leg, a broken left scapula (shoulder blade), a cut on the left side of his temple and a concussion. Maurice had an initial surgery to stabilize the left leg and now has a cast on it.
“He’s recovering as well as can be expected,” Heilinger said on Tuesday. “He’s still in the hospital. He’s getting around on a wheelchair. His spirits are good. Part of what’s taking more time than we thought is to get him situated over here.”
In particular, Heilinger is looking for a place her husband can do rehab around here.
“We’re working on getting him a bed in a rehab place in Salem or Keizer,” Heilinger said. “Maybe he will transfer tomorrow.”
Maurice is a longtime employee at Portland Community College, where he attended school.
Heilinger has been logging plenty of miles to visit her husband.
“It’s been pretty hectic,” she said. “I made three trips to Bend in a week’s time. I would come home, turn around and return again.”
Heilinger has been amazed by the outpouring of love and support.
“I’ve felt very supported by the friends and cyclist friends,” she said. “One neighbor mowed my front yard without me asking. We have some former Keizer friends who live in Bend who opened their home to me. I spent some nights at their house, even when they weren’t there. That was so great.”
For about 10 years now, Carolyn and Tom Homan have been regularly eating dinners on Fridays with Maurice and Heilinger, as well as Carol and Martin Doerfler. Carolyn Homan has been among the many friends hoping for the best.
“Joanne posted the news on Facebook the next day,” Homan said. “I remember saying out loud ‘Oh no!’ At that point it was just a rundown of his injuries. I couldn’t imagine it. It was very surprising. You know (bicycle riding) can be dangerous, but still you don’t expect it.”
On St. Patrick’s Day, the trio of couples, minus Maurice, went out for dinner together.
Heilinger had just returned from Bend and gave her friends medical updates.
“It’s always more fun with the six of us,” Homan said.
Homan would love to have Maurice back in the area while he recovers.
“We can’t wait to have him back,” she said. “Maybe we’ll take some takeout food over there.”
Like Heilinger, Homan has been impressed with the support shown.
“It’s been great,” she said. “The Salem Bicycle Club is a great group. They’ve all been asking about him. A lot of folks helped Joanne right after the accident. One friend went to Bend with her since she had to get John’s bike and car. It’s a really good group of people. Neighbors were standing in the street waiting for her to come home, taking care of the cats and mowing the lawn. It’s nice to have people step up like that without being asked. It’s pretty cool.”
Maurice posted about the incident on his Facebook page the morning after being injured, before he had his initial surgery.
“I woke up in the hospital wondering why I was there,” Maurice wrote on March 15. “I found out that my injuries were a little bit more extensive than originally thought…After talking with the doctor it looks like all of my plans for races this summer are in doubt.
“All I remember about the accident is just waking up on the road, wondering why I was there,” he added later. “However, the kind policeman told me what had happened…I was found by my friends on the bike ride I was doing, who called 911.”
Maurice wrote later his summer race plans didn’t look too good.
“What does look good is that I expect to be able to recover completely from my injuries and will be able (to) focus on this race in the years to follow. I am in good spirits and I know that I am receiving the best care possible, which will allow me to have fun in the future,” he wrote.