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Helmets helped in cyclists’ crashes in Saanich, 20 minutes apart

Jake Innes was heading home from Claremont High School Monday when a motorist turned left in front of him, hitting the 15-year-old cyclist head-on at Haliburton Road and the Patricia Bay Highway.
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Jake Innes, 15, recovers at home after being hit by a car on Haliburton Rd Monday.

Jake Innes was heading home from Claremont High School Monday when a motorist turned left in front of him, hitting the 15-year-old cyclist head-on at Haliburton Road and the Patricia Bay Highway.

“I hit the front of the car and, from what I’ve been told, the whole windshield was smashed and there’s a hole in it. I flipped over the car, and flew pretty freaking far,” Jake said, resting at home Tuesday.

“You’d think I’d be in a wheelchair after something like that.”

The reason he’s not, Saanich police said, is that he was wearing a helmet.

But that’s not the only lesson to come out of the bicycle-vehicle collision —and one that followed within 20 minutes, said Sgt. Steve Eassie. Drivers must be aware that it’s their responsibility to watch out for pedestrians and cyclists, whether they’re “being waved on by other drivers or whatever.”

Jake suffered a compression fracture to a vertebrae, a broken metatarsal bone in his foot and lots of bruises. He remembers biking downhill, then flying through the air.

His helmet remained intact but had shards of glass in it. “My neck and my head is all fine,” Jake said, adding the helmet probably saved his life.

He’s been cycling most of his life and, for the past five years, has been mountain biking seriously. He scouts new trails for the South Island Mountain Bike Society and volunteers at summer bicycle camps to help children learn safe cycling.

“I’ve been riding for a long time, so [the accident] is pretty crazy,” Jake said. “I’m totally fine, I think, but I’m pretty shaken up.”

He urges other cyclists to wear their helmets.

“If you think it makes you look cool if you don’t wear one … wearing one is totally worth it.”

The 23-year-old driver who hit Jake had only a learner’s licence, which did not allow him to drive alone. The driver was issued a $167 fine for failing to yield while making a left turn and a $109 fine for driving without a proper permit.

That crash caused a traffic snarl along Elk Lake Drive, leading to another collision. A driver turning left into Saanich Commonwealth Place recreation centre struck a cyclist in the oncoming lane.

The driver did not see the cyclist and thought it was safe to turn, as another driver had stopped to let them through.

The cyclist, who was wearing a helmet, received minor injuries. The driver was fined $167 for failure to yield at a left turn.

“Obviously, we would hate for [cyclists] to suffer the long-lasting effects of a head injury,” Eassie said.

“I often tell my kids, ‘I’ve already had you in diapers, I don’t want to keep you in diapers for the rest of your life.’ ”

smcculloch@timescolonist.com

spetrescu@timescolonist.com