The man who suffered potentially life-threatening injuries in a bicycle crash in Yorktown last month says he is making a full recovery.
“I can’t believe I was almost killed in the bicycle accident,” said Joseph Schanuel. “I have nobody to blame but myself — nobody caused my bike to fall.”
Schanuel, 25, was riding his bike — which he modified to be powered by a two-stroke gas engine — along N. George Mason Drive on the afternoon of July 28 when suddenly it fell apart.
“The front wheel came off after my carbon fork [a part that attaches the front wheel to the frame] broke in half due to overuse and local bumpy terrain,” he said. “My skull dropped into the pavement, face-planted at 20 mph.”
The crash happened around 1 p.m. on the 2700 block of N. George Mason Drive, just south of Yorktown Blvd, and the detached wheel could be seen next to the bike. According to a Nextdoor post, a woman walking her dog called the paramedics.
“I was on a work call when my wife, who was walking our dog, screamed for me to come outside,” a man said on Nextdoor. “She was already on with 9-11. I saw you lying in the road and ran into the middle of the road to stop traffic. Within minutes, the paramedics were there. We were worried sick about you and are so glad to hear you are ok and on the mend.”
Another poster said she drove by the scene before the road had been blocked off. She saw Schanuel surrounded by Arlington County Fire Department personnel.
“I was horrified to see you lying unmoving on the street,” she said. “I was very shaken and am so relieved to hear that you survived!! I wish you well in your recovery!”
Schanuel was rushed to Virginia Hospital Center, which was only five minutes away. According to his Instagram, he was discharged Aug. 13, a Friday.
“I owe my thanks to the 911 caller at the… scene of the accident and to the [Emergency Medical Services], also [Emergency Room] physicians and facial neurologist trauma doctors at VHC, which was only five minutes away,” he said. “Thank you for providing me rapid transport — I am alive because of your heroism.”
Schanuel was wearing a helmet at the time and said it might have saved his life. Still, the force of hitting his face on the pavement knocked him unconscious “for at least five hours,” according to his account of the crash on Nextdoor. Firefighters had to use water to wash Schanuel’s blood from the pavement.
His fall resulted in shattered facial bones and traumatic injury to Schanuel’s brain. He says he suffered a concussion so bad that he could have had permanent cognitive impairment, as well as deficits in balance, agility and the ability to sense his body’s movements. But he’s happy to be alive.
“I’m lucky I can still bathe and swallow and lift objects and walk in a straight line without any mobility assistance,” he said.
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