AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Republic of Texas Rally, kicking off Thursday, is the largest gathering of its kind in the state, but one biker spent the last year recovering in a trauma center after a horrific crash.
Austin Eddins used to ride a Suzuki. Now, he walks on his “Cadillac,” a bionic, prosthetic leg. He lost his motorcycle in the crash last April.
“It’s allowed me to get back on my feet,” Eddins said. “I didn’t believe I was going to make it through it.”
He said he had several reasons to survive the incident that caused him to lose his left leg. The first: his 3-year-old daughter. The second: bringing awareness to motorcycle safety.
His wreck shut down a stretch of road leading up to the Circuit of the Americas, where Eddins works and was headed that morning. On his way, he took a blind hill and just over it was an 18-wheeler spanning the entire road and blocking Eddins’ path. He had nowhere to turn and not enough time to slow down.
“I said my prayers, and kind of made peace with God and let go,” Eddins said.
Minutes later, a coworker, Casey DeShay, saw the crash and wrapped his maimed leg in a tourniquet. Eddins said it saved his life, but he lost his left leg in the impact and ended up in the newly-developed Trauma Center at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center.
“The bottom line is, if the patient tries, they’ll do well,” said Dr. Drue Ware, a trauma surgeon at the medical center. “If the patient doesn’t try then they don’t do as well.”
Several surgeries led to months of work with physical therapists, who he often revisits. “I still come back here and say ‘hi’ to these people and squeeze their necks because I love them,” said Eddins. “I really do.”
This weekend, he is headed to the ROT Rally. His motorcycling days are gone. “I still have the need for speed just as bad as I ever did. I just don’t do it on two wheels anymore,” he said.
With more than 20,000 motorcycles hitting Austin this weekend, bikers say they hope drivers will share the roads with them, but there are some things that they can do as well to stay safe.
“You have to keep an eye on everything around you,” said ROT Rally Biker Isaac Espinosa, who drove from Ft. Worth. “And, it’s better to ride in a group, too. Because when you’re in the group, [drivers] won’t cut you off.”
Eddins agrees. “All I can say is put your gear on and ride defensively,” he said. “If you’re one of those idiots out there riding without a helmet, you’re just asking to die today.”