The Crash

Saturday April 13, 2013. Bahia Blanca, Argentina. Hotel Argos.

Dave is OK except for his arm which suffered some broken bones. I took this picture about an hour ago at the motorcycle shop Motos Fernandez where Dave stopped to take care of some paperwork before being driven to the airport for his flight home.

The crash happened Thursday about noon on the outskirts of Bahia Blanca, Argentina. I think it will be best to let Dave tell the story in his own words after he is home and rested. You can read his blog HERE. I’ll tell the story of how we managed to take care of Dave and his stuff.

I didn’t see the accident since I was the lead with Deby behind me, Dave in the middle and Keith and Jim were bringing up the rear. We were in relatively light traffic on a clear dry day looking to skirt the city of Bahia Blanca on our way to Buenos Aries. On our way through a roundabout Dave’s pannier made contact with a truck which caused him to loose control and dump in the median.

What happened next was a textbook example of how to do everything correctly at an accident scene. Every motorcycle rider should have first responder training and know what to do in case of an accident. Deby and I took a two day emergency first responder class before we left and we had the added benefit of having Jim along who is a doctor/surgeon. We all jumped into action to protect the scene, do a preliminary evaluation and call for help. Within minutes there was a complete response including police, fire truck and an ambulance to take Dave to a nearby hospital. Dr. Jim followed the ambulance to the hospital leaving Keith, Deby and I to deal with the motorcycle and the police. Thus began an incredible sequence of events where we each worked to get Dave and his motorcycle home.

The police insisted we follow them to the station with the motorcycles, most importantly Dave’s which was to be held for evidence. We determined that Dave’s bike was rideable and after some discussion I was elected to ride it to the station. One of the officers insisted that he was a motocross rider and would ride my motorcycle and lead the way. We didn’t seem to have much choice.  At the station we worked with the main officer who spoke no English. I didn’t catch his name and wish I would have because he seemed to go out of his way to be helpful. He interviewed Keith who was the main witness and asked me a bunch of questions before he let us go. I can’t really explain how we managed to communicate except to say that it was a combination of hand signals, drawings on paper and some use of the Google online translator. Finally, we were allowed to leave but were sternly told that we couldn’t take Dave’s bike or any of his belongings, all of which were being held for evidence.

I programmed the Bahia Blanca Municipal Hospital into my GPS and we went off to check on our Amigo. Dr. Jim was with Dave in the examination room and we were able to briefly go in and say hello. I quickly determined it would be better if we let the professionals do their job and waited in the hallway. Somehow in the division of duties it became my job to call Dave’s insurance company in the US and obtain authorization for treatment. It took awhile but I finally got through to his insurance company and a Spanish speaking doctor who I handed off to one of Dave’s doctors. They spoke for a long while and must have worked something out because they treated Dave and when it was time to leave the hospital they didn’t ask for any money.

With the situation seeming stable for the moment we set about our next task of finding a hotel. The ideal hotel would have been near the hospital but a quick assessment of the neighborhood suggested that we might want to be somewhere else. That’s when we met Pablo. Our normal protocol is to always leave someone watching the bikes when we need to go somewhere and the hospital was no exception judging by the people wandering around and the attention four big adventure bikes were getting. Deby was on guard duty for what ended up being a couple of hours and had extended conversations in Spanglish with all the curious people passing by. One of them was Pablo, who we eventually figured out was there because his mother was in the hospital for some type of surgery. Deby and Pablo had been conversing for at least an hour when I came out and asked about hotels. Pablo had a few suggestions but it was clear he wanted to know what type of hotel we wanted…. mejor mejor I told him using up one of my 15 Spanish words. He got the message and signaled us to follow him. We got on the bikes and followed him a few block on foot to his parked car. From there we followed him about a mile to the main square of town where he parked in front of the Argos Hotel, a modern multistory building with underground parking. Perfect. I thought he would just wave and drive off but no, he parked his car and insisted on going in with us to explain our predicament in Spanish and make sure we were able to get rooms. Amazing. We saw him the next day at the hospital and found out his mother’s surgery went well and she was recovering fine. He wanted to know about Dave’s recovery and how we liked our hotel. I should have got his picture… thanks Pablo!

Deby and I secured two rooms, unloaded our bikes and rode back to the hospital. By this time it became clear that Dave would be spending the night and he requested that we gather up some of his personal belongings from the police. Hmmm, I wondered if his shaving kit and clean underwear would be considered evidence. Keith, Deby and I decided to ride the 5 miles back to the police station and see what we could do.

Mr. Main Policeman was still there and after some discussion he agreed that we could take all of Dave’s belongings which were in a pile on the floor of his office and included one pannier that was torn off the bike, his large tail bag and the contents of the other pannier that had been strewn about in the road when the lid broke off. Not sure how we would transport all that stuff I didn’t want to argue and started carrying stuff out and strapping it on the three bikes.

I thought it might be a good idea to ask about taking the bike, his first answer was no. In the course of spanglish and sign language I found out they may need to keep the bike for several days! Yikes! I told him – no possibilo (adding an “o” seems to help in Spanglish). He looked at me and made a long phone call to someone discussing our situation. After he hung up he typed something into his google translator. It was a terrible translation and I could almost read it better in Spanish. It looked like we could take the bike and the “commissioner” authorized it’s release. Wow, I told him I would be back in ono hora! The three of us rode the 5 miles to the hospital to drop off Dave’s belongings. Keith decided to stay at the hospital and Deby and I had the task of motorcycle retrieval. We rode back to the hotel to drop off my bike and rode two-up on Deby’s bike back to the police station.

Silly me, I thought we would show up and be allowed to just drive away. Not. There was more paperwork to fill out including some kind of release / legal thing in Spanish I had to sign. They made copies of my passport and copied all my information onto the form. I still don’t know what that was about exactly but decided to take the risk. By the time we were done Mr. Main Policemen lightened up and brought up his Facebook page with pictures of him riding motocross races and his bike, it was pretty cool. I thought he sent me a friend request but I never received it… bummer, I would like to send him a thank you.

By the time we were done it was close to 8:00 PM and we rode to the hotel in the dark. I was glad Dave’s turn signals and brake lights all worked even if they pointed in odd directions. I should have checked the headlight, it was on but pointed nearly straight down. We made it safely to the hotel to find Keith and Jim waiting in the hotel lobby. We all sat in the lobby evaluating the day, glad that for the most part Dave was OK and evaluated what needed to be done next. They still had their riding gear on to make one last trip to the hospital to bring Dave his cell phone so he could call his wife. It was dark, getting cold and we were all tired which is why it took us a few minutes to figure out it would be best to leave the bikes parked and take a cab to the hospital. Duh….

Friday April 14, 2013

8:00 AM was the meeting time at the hotel to plan the day’s tasks and divvy up the tasks for the day. Janice had arranged a flight for Dave to leave the next day, Saturday at 2:45 PM. He would fly to Buenos Aries and then catch a flight to Portland via Houston.

Jim and Keith’s morning task was to go through Dave’s belongings making an inventory and make sure we had everything. They then repacked his bags, sorting out what Dave could take on the plane and what we could ship home on the motorcycle. They went through all his paperwork and even bought a multi-sleeve folder to organize everything.

I had been e-mailing with Dakar Motos, the company in Buenos Aries who was helping us ship the bikes home. Sandra, who was helpful beyond belief told me what paperwork we would need to send Dave’s bike home without him. She e-mailed me some forms and told me they needed to be notarized along with notarized copies of Dave’s passport, and vehicle registration. We needed everything in triplicate.

We also needed to find a way to get Dave’s bike to BA, about 400 miles away. We split with Keith and Jim agreeing to meet later at the hotel. Not sure what to do I looked online for a nearby motorcycle shop and found one a few blocks away. Deby and I set off on foot for the shop only to find the building was empty. Not knowing what to do we kept walking down Brown Street. We were in an area where every other shop seemed to be an auto parts store or an auto repair facility. I had a feeling that it would be a likely spot for a motorcycle shop. After about 10 blocks and not finding anything we were about to turn around, I suggested to Deby we try one more block and then give up. Halfway down the block we saw this: 

Moto Fernandez. I looked into the dark windows, was it even open? I saw some motorcycles including a pretty new BMW F800GS. We opened the door and walked in. A sales person greeted us and I started conveying our story in sign language / Spanglish. Neccissito moto to Buenos Aries. Amigo crash… hospitale…. then sign language for a broken arm. Not much progress, but I was told to wait. Eventually the owner, Juan Fernadez came in, he spoke a few more words of English and we managed to get our story across. Finally, he asked us to wait and made a few phone calls. After the last call he conveyed he had good news, a friend of his could ride Dave’s bike to Buenos Aries on Sunday if we would buy him a bus ticket back. Yes! Then he said, solo uno problemo, mi amigo es 72 anos! Would that be a problem? Ha! It only made sense to have another 70+ year old person join us. It felt right so I told him yes and that we would all meet at his shop at 10:00 on Saturday. We couldn’t believe our luck in locating a rider and such a helpful person as Juan Fernandez.

We got back to the hotel in time to have lunch with Jim and Keith. During lunch we sorted out the paperwork we needed, placed everything into the multi-tabbed folder and made notes of what needed to be copied. Our next task was to get all the copies then find a notary on a Friday afternoon that could go to the hospital and watch Dave sign everything. We had 24 hours before Dave needed to be at the airport, his bike couldn’t leave the country without the notarized documents. It seemed doable.

With a binder full of copies of various documents including assignment of responsibility, and releases Deby and I hiked to the hospital so see if we could find a notary. At the hospital there was a most helpful intern named Katerina? She called a notary that she knew and had a long conversation in Spanish, the answer was no. According to her, all the notaries in the city were in a meeting all afternoon and even if there was one available they couldn’t notarize one of the documents because it was in Spanish and Dave didn’t speak Spanish. What? Dave tried to convince her, in Spanish, that indeed he did understand Spanish and what the document said. She would’t budge. In frustration I checked on my GPS and saw that we were not far from a courthouse and some municipal buildings. Deby volunteered to walk around and see if she could find a notary. She came back a while later with the name an number of someone that didn’t pan out. We were running out of options, it was late on Friday and Dave would be released at 10:00 AM the next day in time to to the to airport for his flight. The best idea had was for Dave to sign the forms, forget the notary, go to Buenos Aries and hope for the best.

Did I mention that it was Dave’s right arm that was broke? Signing with his right hand was out of the question, could he sign with his left? Dave wanted to try so I gave him my notebook to practice on. It wasn’t pretty. 

Ok, forget that idea. Dejected and out if ideas we went back to the hotel.

Saturday April 13, 2013

Our 8:00 breakfast meeting was somber. We had no solution to the notary problem and had resolved to take our chances without one. Keith and Jim had Dave’s belongings sorted and packed for the plane and were going to go to the hospital to get Dave out by his 10:00 AM release time. Deby and I agreed to go to Motos Fernadez for our arranged meeting with our 72 year old rider, Miguel. I would ride Dave’s bike to Juan’s shop because he wanted his mechanic to look over the bike and make sure it was roadworthy. Good idea.

We got there at 10:00 and Juan’s mechanic set about checking over Dave’s bike and gluing some of the plastic back in place. While we were waiting for Miguel I casually asked Juan if he knew a notary and explained the problem. Yes! No problem! In an instant he was on the phone with his notary when he looked at me and said it’s not possible. What? Why? He explained that a notary in Bahia Blanca is not recognized in Buenos Aires. I recommended he call Saundra at Dakar Motos in Buenos Aries which he did and had an extended conversation. I have absolutely no idea what they said to each other but in my mind Saundra said that it’s a bunch of Bu!!$hit and just sign the documents. I couldn’t agree more, any signature was better than nothing.

Ok, the deal was on, Juan’s notary would meet Dave and sign the papers, it was 10:30 AM. We were at the motorcycle shop that is probably 7 miles from the hospital and Dave was scheduled to be released at 10:00. How could I get a message to Dave to come to Juan’s shop? Did he already leave the hospital? Were they on their way to the airport for an early check in? Maybe they found a notary at the hospital? I took a chance and asked Juan to call the hospital and ask for the Americano in room 4. Somehow it worked.

Dave, Keith and Jim all struck out finding a notary and decided to forget it and leave for the airport when an orderly came in to tell Dave he had a phone call. Dave got on the phone with Juan and was amazed to hear at the last minute a notary had been arranged if he could take a taxi to Juan’s shop. By 11:30 the taxi showed up with Keith, Jim and Dave. The timing was perfect, only a few minutes earlier Miguel, the person who would be riding Dave’s bike to BA arrived. Everyone got to meet among great excitement.

Left to right, Dave, Juan and Miguel

Miguel and Dave…. now how fast will this thing go?

Just now as I’m typing this I got an e-mail from Jim that they met the notary, got everything signed, found a pharmacy to fill his prescriptions and successfully got Dave to the airport to board the plane.

Everything is thanks to Juan Fernandez, he drove Dave and Jim to the notary and the airport and went out of his way to help make everything work.  I know that Juan was missing his son’s basketball game and spending a big part of his Saturday to help complete strangers. Unreal! A huge Thank You to Juan Fernandez!

So, tonight we will celebrate with a nice dinner and then get ready for a long ride in the morning. Is Dave’s bike really roadworthy enough to go 400 miles at high speeds? Will all the paperwork be correct for customs? I hope so. I look forward to hearing from Dave when he get’s back.

That’s all for now. The adventure continues…..

Donn and Deby 🙂 🙂









9 thoughts on “The Crash

    • Glad to help, Dave would have done the same and more! Keep us posted on his progress, we’ll miss him.

  1. “Oh No!!!” Was my response with my hands over my mouth…when Michael told me about Dave’s accident. I am so glad that he is ok and you all did such an amazing job in taking care of him. Safe travels to you and no more excitement like that! Do you want to know what your riding amigo Michael is doing right now??? Sitting on the couch watching the Masters and drinking a beer! Home sweet home!

  2. thank heavens you all were there and Dave’s really actually OK!
    You are all so fabulous…..and cheers to all the Argentinians who have helped you.
    Wishing you the very best ride to BA…..have REALLY enjoyed your blog and would love to meet you some day if you ever get here to visit Dave in L. Oswego!
    A dios you all!!

  3. Hi Donn an Deby
    Tor andI would like to say Well done .We have enjoyed the ride with you . We hope to see you in Seattle at the V.M.E. or on the Bonehead Enduro in May We see you made Buenos Aires on the spot THANK you for the adventure on your blog post post. Tom and Tor Samuelsen

  4. Wow. Again… Isn’t humanity wonderful, and just when you need it!
    When in B.A. take the time to walk along the pedestrian streets and if you should find Florida 121 Cap. Fed. gelateria, treat yourselves to dulce de leche goat milk ice cream cones. They sculpt them to about 18″ tall and you will not find a more delicious ice cream on this earth!

  5. What a drag! Dave & Keith are both such inspirations. As are you Donn & Deby. Safe journeys home and see you soon! Ok, well June anyway 🙂

  6. You landed in great hands, surely the best hands, Juan its probably one of the most resourceful people i know in the city, if he can’t help i doubt anyone will. Very nice story i hope you all have a nice trip to Buenos Aires and can get the bike out of the country!

  7. Hi. I am a Juan’s friend, and i can confirm that he is a fantastic person. I am glad that all went well through all the bad moments with the accident. Btw, congratulations for the great adventure in a motorcyle! Kind regards. Abel

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