Cyclist in near-fatal crash begins recovery

Sam Mills holds the helmet that spared him from head injries in a near-fatal crash April 25. (Dana Delgado Photo)

Sam Mills holds the helmet that spared him from head injries in a near-fatal crash April 25. (Dana Delgado Photo)

By Dana Delgado

It’s been just over six weeks since Samuel (Sam) Mills’ routine ride home from his Austin job ended with an unnerving almost deadly crash in Leander.

“Our family and friends from Liberty Hill, to the Gulf Coast, to Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Hawaii were all praying for him and our prayers were answered,” said an emotional Loretta Mills, Sam’s mother.

Mills, who turned 21 while he was hospitalized and was planning to enter the US Air Force in the coming months, was released from St. David’s Medical Center in Round Rock on June 6 after spending 15 days in an induced coma, and four weeks enduring three transfusions and nine surgeries and intense rehabilitation. Four operations are still pending.

His shattered pelvis has been reconstructed, his right knee was punctured and is healing, and his severely fractured right wrist was mended with a metal plate.

Fortunately, Mills did not suffer any head injuries since he was wearing his helmet as he always does.

The avid motorcyclist and video gamer who has lived in Liberty Hill since 2000 is now recovering at his home, which had to be modified to accommodate his current needs.  Family friend Matt Mouller donated his labor while First Texas Honda donated funds for materials.

“It’s a process the doctors tell me,” said Mills, who was just beginning to get the feel of his customized wheelchair on his third day at home from the hospital. “They expect me to have a full recovery.”

Meanwhile, says his mother, medical bills are mounting and expected to exceed $1 million even though her son has been employed full time and has health insurance.

“What we need is people’s help,” she said. “We as a family are asking for donations to help Sam in his hour of need.”

An account has been set up for  Mills at Union State Bank in Liberty Hill.  In addition, an online account has been set up at www.gofundme.com under his name. A benefit concert is also being organized for July 17 at the Rattle Inn in Austin by Mills’ brother Miguel Hinojosa.  Information on the concert is available from Hinojosa at (512) 689-5149.

Individuals are also being asked by the family to donate blood at any of the Central Texas Blood Center locations.

Donations have begun to be received by the family. First Texas Honda, where Sam has worked for nearly three years, answered the call to help early on. Employees donated sick leave to their colleague and have been there to support him and his family.

First Texas Honda General Manager Garrett Liming said, “We all rallied around him and the family and have been taking donations. Sam is a highly valued employee and very energetic. His whole family works with us. In fact, his dad, Joe, has been a fixture with First Texas Honda since the early 1980s.”

Mills’ fateful ride happened after leaving his job in the Parts Department at First Texas Honda April 25. Minutes later at about 6:10 p.m. under sunny skies, the 2011 Liberty Hill High School graduate found himself a victim of an automobile accident laying on the road alongside his mangled 2013 Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

The safety conscious motorcycle rider clad in a bright neon-yellow shirt had made a quick stop at the HEB Superstore in Leander before continuing his ride home to Liberty Hill on Hwy 183 when he collided with a vehicle that suddenly pulled out of the park and ride lot at the metro station, turning southbound directly in front of him. Unable to avoid the impact, Mills’ motorcycle struck the back wheel of the vehicle catapulting his 6’3” frame onto the roof of the car, the windshield, and then the hood before knocking him to the ground.

An unidentified Good Samaritan, who happened to be an emergency medical technician, rushed to his aid at the scene.

“He held on to my arm so tight and refused to have anyone take my helmet off,” recalls Mills. “I was conscious but in a lot of pain.”

When EMS arrived, Mills kept asking if his mother had been called.  His parents would eventually be called using the contacts on his phone which had them listed as the ICE (in case of emergency) contact.  Upon hearing the phone message,  his parents raced to the hospital. Five tense hours later, they were allowed to see him.

“Thank you God, thank you,” were among the first words of Mrs. Mills  upon learning that her son had survived the crash. So grateful to learn that he would recover, Mrs. Mills said she sat down at home and wrote thank you letters to Harley-Davidson and the manufacturer of the helmet for saving her son’s life.

Rick Egbert, who has known the family for 10 years and as Parts Manager is Mills’ supervisor at First Texas Honda, said he was stunned by the accident.

“I was shocked and pretty shaken,” said Egbert who labored to control his emotions. “He is very smart and outgoing and his family is so tight-knit and very loving.”

Now recuperating, a bruised and still very much in pain Mills said he is uneasy about riding again.

“Yes, I’m anxious about it because of the traumatic event,” he said. “But I know I will replace my motorcycle that was totaled in the accident with a bigger Harley. I like the feel of the road and the independence that comes with it. I look forward to riding with my dad and riding at Sturgis, Daytona, and Milwaukee- birthplace of Harley Davidson.”

Overcome by the magnitude of the seriousness of the accident that nearly claimed her son, Mrs. Mills is humbled and overwhelmed by the generosity of others especially strangers she has never met.

“It’s so endearing,” she said. “You wouldn’t think strangers would step up to help. It’s so heartwarming, but we need a lot of help to support Sam in his recovery.”