Bike helmet saves boy's life

Joe Horvat, 11, with the bicycle helmet which saved his life this week. Mum, Nancy Horvat, said doctors were amazed at how minor Joe’s injuries were.
Joe Horvat, 11, with the bicycle helmet which saved his life this week. Mum, Nancy Horvat, said doctors were amazed at how minor Joe’s injuries were. Craig Warhurst

YOUNG cyclist Joe Horvat can always buy another bicycle safety helmet.

It’s a lot cheaper than a new head, the 11-year-old agreed yesterday, after colliding with a car in Reef Street on Monday.

One lightweight plastic and foam device is the only reason Joe is still with us. The split that has ruined his helmet could so easily have been a lethal concussion and fracture, with an impact point right at the base of his skull.

“The police said if it wasn’t for the helmet, I wouldn’t be here,” Joe said at his Chapple Street home yesterday.

He was on crutches yesterday, as he recovered from abrasions and a sprained ankle.

Joe Horvat was on his way to the skate park in Gympie on Monday when he learned the lesson of his life.

The brakes on his borrowed bicycle responded unexpectedly, leading him to crash into the side of a passing car.

“We’re just lucky the woman driving the car was only doing 30kmh. We’re lucky he went over the car rather than under it and we’re lucky he was wearing a helmet,” his mother Nancy said.

“I’m amazed at the number of kids who just don’t wear helmets – it’s scary,” she said.

Joe spoke to The Gympie Times yesterday about the longest second of his existence.

“We just want to get the message out. If one child learns a lesson from what happened to Joe, that’s one life possibly saved,” his mother Nancy Horvat said.

“That’s our mission,” she said.

“I was riding down the street and I turned and my brakes weren’t working properly,” Joe said, explaining that he had turned to cross Reef Street, intending to ride through Memorial Park towards the skate park.

“The car went across in front of me. It stopped and I didn’t, because of the brakes.

“I landed on the bonnet of the car, hit the windscreen and my head hit the roof of the car just above the windscreen.

“The helmet is cracked right down the middle at the back,” he said.

Instead of being dead, Joe got off lightly, with some skin off his back, elbows and knees.

“My shoes came off and I bruised my legs and sprained my ankle,” he said.

“It was a good brand,” Nancy said. “It is a real helmet and we’re just glad he was wearing one.

“The day after the crash we were at school and I noticed all the around town who just don’t wear helmets, including all the kids on scooters.”

So does Joe wear a helmet when he’s riding a scooter? “Not usually,” he said.

“Well, you will be from now on,” his mother said.

Gympie Times

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