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Letter: Helmets are lifesavers

Reading about the motorcyclist and his passenger that were killed in a motorcycle crash in central Minnesota this last weekend brought back distant memories of my own mishap with a motorcycle.

My first heroes in life were a couple janitors from school, Kirk Johnson and Dean Wolf. They were the volunteer firefighters who responded to my bust-up on a dirt bike several decades ago. Though my memory of the hospital visit is a little foggy, I distinctly remember the doctor thanking me for wearing a helmet, then telling me to brace myself as he prepared to scrub out the dirt embedded in my hip. My parents were outside the treatment room listening to my screams. After a week of wearing bedsheets instead of pants, I returned to doing the same crazy things on the dirt bike I had always done.

I happened to run into Kirk last year, about 43 years after he picked me up off the road. I nodded when he asked if I still wore a helmet when riding. Glad I didn’t disappoint the man.

Nowadays, I typically use my motorcycle for short road trips, not screaming down dirt trails and in gravel pits. When I arrive at my destination, I have never locked the helmet to the bike for one simple reason: A helmet appears to be the least sought-after motorcycle accessory in Minnesota. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration show almost half of the riders in states without helmet laws do not wear helmets. And according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, about two-thirds of riders involved in motorcycle fatalities were not wearing helmets.

I encourage riders and passengers to consider safety first.

James Bragge,