Subject: Bonita's Bike Wreck
Date: 6/14/01 1:33 AM


     When everything is repaired and time has healed and mended parts back to "normal," the doctors expect no permanent damage or disability. There is a lesson in this too. No one should be permitted to ride a bicylce without a helmet--it can literally save your life.

Now the rest of the story!

Bonita Is Home!!

     Again, many thanks for all your concern and communication about Bonita.

     She is overwhelmed with the many well wishes, and it has helped her attitude and her recovery. She was released at Wichita hospital at 3:30 p.m. today (Wed.) and we were home in less than four hours--she made the ride without difficulty, all clamped together in her back brace and shell, which she must wear any time she is not flat on her back in bed.

     The back doctor thinks this will take six to eight weeks to heal, but the way everything else is going we hope it will not be that long. She will be on full liquid diet until the jaw has healed (no time forecast available). We rented a hospital bed and put it in her office on the main floor so she will not have to use any stairs. She is using a walker but should be able to get along without it in a couple of weeks. She continues to take medication for pain and to prevent infection.

     There are restrictions on her activities, but she is to walk as much as she can and do anything else she feels comfortable doing in the brace, so long as it is done in moderation. She has developed a good appetite so we stopped and got some soup in Salina and she had soup again when we got home. She has plans to run lots of good things through the blender so she can drink them without chewing (chewing is the "no no" now).

     Mary Earl, a retired nurse and friend, will stay with her during the day and take care of her needs. I will do the night shift, although probably not very well. I'm not so sure that, after my inept attempts at nursing, she would not prefer to be back in hospital tonite. Maybe this will cause her to get well quicker--to escape from my care. I did promise not to wake her two times during the night to check on her temperature and blood pressure. The later may be quite elevated because of me (I'm not so skillful as the excellent nurses she has become used to the last ten days).

     I will return to work Friday. She has appointments with three doctors in Wichita over the next month (none of them the same day, as you can expect), and we hope everything continues to improve.

      I have visited with the woman driving the car Bonita hit, and she thinks the quick release on Bonita's front bike wheel was released when she hit the back wheel of the other biker, causing her to lose control of the bike. Bonita rolled across the lane in front of the Ford and was hit by the left front fender and then went down the side of the vehicle, taking off the outside mirror, denting the door, and leaving helmet marks on the driver's window. The woman driving said she did not believe at the time that anyone could have survived that impact, and she stopped and ran to Bonita expecting her to be dead and was relieved when she saw her move. She stayed with her until the EMTs had her in the ambulance and on the way to hospital. The driver said she keeps reliving that scene, over which she had no control but found more frightening than anything in her experience. She and her sister and mother were on the way to Arizona for a week, and she contacted us when they returned. Our insurance will repair her car, and it will also replace Bonita's bike. Bonita has become a statistic--in the 27 years of doing the bike across Kansas ride, she is only the second major accident (the other was a fatality). The driver of the car said if she had hit Bonita a second earlier she likely would have gone right over her and the results would have been much worse.

     She enjoys hearing from everyone. Right now she does not have a phone at her bedside, but we hope to get that fixed soon. For the time being, visiting hours are from 6 to 9 p.m. daily! Actually any time will work if you will call first to let her know. Again, thanks for your messages and support. She is very grateful to be remembered. I hope this is the last report of this kind, but if you want to check on her condition don't hesitate to call or send a message.

     Thanks to many, many responses, well wishes, questions, phone calls (mostly unanswered), e-mails, cards, flowers (the largest bouquet came from the bicycle shop where she purchased the bike!), visitors, etc., etc. All are greatly appreciated.

     I finally learned the make of the vehicle with which she tangled: a 2001 Ford Expedition (she is just glad it wasn't an 18-wheeler).

     She also learned that, by being in hospital, she missed out on a big storm when the bikers camped at Sedan (a storm that blew down trees, soaked everyone's luggage, and made everyone uncomfortable). She might have traded being in hospital for the storm.

     Bonita had upper right jaw repaired Friday afternoon--three plates and screws but no need to wire the jaws together (she is pleased--actually she seems to have convinced the surgeon that she did not need the wiring together). She has new facial swelling from that surgery but it is going down today (her sister said she now looks like one of the characters from the movie "Planet of the Apes"--not very kind). The other facial injuries are considered stable and nothing more will be done unless complications develop later (none expected).

     There is a fractured vertebra between the shoulder blades. She will be fitted with a custom-made brace Monday so she can sit up, get up, and begin walking. This is temporary support until the break is healed (about six to eight weeks).

     The broken elbow is mending so well the doctor removed all dressing today and started her on exercises.

      The fractured sacrum is stable and should heal without further attention, provided she doesn't overdo the exercise for a few weeks. The many bruises are still painful, and she has trouble finding a comfortable position to rest, but medication makes everything bearable. She is off IVs, has a full liquid diet, and is very positive about a quick recovery. She feels very lucky and most of the time is in good spirits (she complains very little).

     Her daughter Dana flew from Oregon today and will stay with her until Wednesday. Dana has to go back to Oregon for additional corrective eye surgery and then plans to drive back and spend some time here after Bonita comes home.

     Today the doctor said everything seems to be coming along better than expected and, if the brace fits and therapy goes well (and no new problems arise), she could be released Thursday or Friday. Her activities will be limited for a few weeks, but Dana wonders who can keep her from doing whatever she decides to do (if it doesn't hurt too bad she will do it). Dana asked me if I was going to tell her she couldn't do something, and I said I thought that might be a daughter's duty. We may hide her other bicycle for a few weeks. I am not looking forward to working with the bees, but I'll probably be there for a while.

     She got her first carton of milk Saturday, and each little carton has a puzzle on the side to decipher, resulting in some bit of advice. Whether by plan or pure coincidence (the latter I'm sure since the cartons are pulled off the meal carts at random), the puzzle on the first carton (when solved) says: "Wear Your Bike Helmet"! (The second carton she received had a puzzle which is also apropos: "Look Both Ways Before Crossing") She wants her broken helmet, blood and all, mounted to hang on the wall with a caption: "This Saved My Life." She may save the broken bike too. The bike shop says insurance should replace the bike, so she is hoping to get another new bicycle out of the deal (the one she was riding was new in February).

Her hospital address is:
St. Francis Hospital
929 N St Francis St
Wichita KS 67214, room 5036
Room phone 316-291-4536
     She is not always able to answer phone if someone else is not there to help, and get well wishes may be sent via "Get-Well-O-Gram", then scroll down home page and click on "Get-Well-O-Gram" and compose message and fill out information to reach her. (but she is home now so the Get Well O Gram won't work)

     Larry & Carolyn Mix have kindly put up a page about Bonita's accident on the Santa Fe Trail Research Site.

     Again, thanks to everyone for your support. Bonita says she stared death in the face and won this time. She knows she is very fortunate. As they say in Lake Wobegon, "it could be worse."

     Howard & Joyce Losey, and Larry & Carolyn Mix spent the afternoon of 6/15/01 at St. Francis Hospital in Wichita, Kansas with Leo while he was waiting for Bonita to get out of surgery. This afternoon Bonita had a few more pieces put back in place. Her upper jaw bone was broken and the doctors put in three plates and screws to hold everything in place. She was in surgery for some time. When she got out she was awake and talking. They didn't have to have her jaw wired together, they just put in plates. This was a relief for her. She seems in high spirts. Bonita and Leo send their love to everyone that is thinking about them in this time. Leo has been back and forth trying to keep everything running.

     About the only thing that is kind of up in the air is the back injury. This as everyone knows is kind of a waiting game for a while. But they seem to think that everything will be alright, just take a lot of time and rehab. Bonita looks great for what she has been through. She is just about ready to finish what she started, to go all the way across Kansas next year!!

     She is in room 5036, at St. Francis Hospital in Wichita, Kansas. I am sure a card would brighten her day.

     If you have any more information please email it to me and it will be posted. I am sure there will be many people over the world that would like to keep updated on this. There will be more later.
Thank you!
Larry & Carolyn Mix

     I'm sorry to send this news this way but I'm home for only a short time to take care of a some things and want to let you know a few details.

     Please let others know. Will someone in Santa Fe please tell Marc Simmons? He is the only person who really knows what Bonita is going through, and her injuries are minor compared to what he endured. Bonita is at St. Francis Hospital in Wichita.

     She was doing the bike across Kansas trip and on the third day, June 11, early afternoon east of Greensburg, KS, she and another rider bumped and Bonita lost control and went into the lane of traffic and was hit by a SUV that could not have avoided it. Bonita was thrown some distance and survives only because of a helmet that cracked but saved her brains.

      Witnesses think the outside mirror on the SUV hit Bonita in the face (also evidenced by the injuries). She was taken by ambulance to hospital in Greensburg and flown from there to the trauma center in Wichita. They took her to surgery and repaired a broken elbow--a clean break that the surgeon believes will heal quickly and with no disability (he says he will take the splints off in about two weeks). The bone just above the tail bone (sacrum I think, connecting vertebrae to pelvis) is fractured but in line and will probably need no repair except rest. There may be another fractured vertebra up higher and they did a CT scan this evening to see--no report on this yet. They will not let her sit up or get up until they are certain about possible damage to her back. She is bruised from head to toe and swollen in many places. They have kept ice packs on her left knee, right elbow, and her face. She has a broken upper right jaw bone (which they plan to repair Friday or Saturday--waiting for some of the swelling to go down), broken orbital bone around the right eye which remains in line and may need no repair, crushed sinuses, and several facial bruises and some abrasions. Her face was so swollen Monday night that her eyes were swollen shut. This has gone down considerably and her vision in both eyes is normal. She still is unable to breathe through her nose. There is no brain damage, no abdominal damage, and no broken legs. The doctors said her bone density is the best they have seen in a woman of her age, so calcium and exercise do pay off (one said she could have had many more broken bones if her bones were not so sturdy).

     She is feeling bad about her bicycle (which was totaled--I took it back to bike shop where she bought it in Wichita and they said it was the worst wrecked bike they had seen) and not being able to finish the trip--which she considered one of the highlights of her life (and she is talking about trying it again next year). She is also unhappy because she violated her rules of the road. She always prefers to ride alone so she can concentrate on what she is doing and not be talking to or risking contact with another rider. Monday noon two other women, with whom she spent much time in camp, asked her again to ride with them, and she did. They were talking, it was windy, and apparently the woman in front of Bonita slowed to hear or say something and Bonita hit her rear tire. Bonita thinks she did not have her hands on her brakes either, and thus could not stop immediately. Witnesses told me that if the vehicle that hit her had been just one second later she would have been in the clear. One of the women used her cell phone to call 911 and police and ambulance arrived quickly.

     At Greensburg they had the good sense to shoot her up with pain killers and send her to the trauma center.

     She was in intensive care until Wednesday afternoon when she moved into regular hospital room.

     When everything is repaired and time has healed and mended parts back to "normal," the doctors expect no permanent damage or disability. There is a lesson in this too. No one should be permitted to ride a bicylce without a helmet--it can literally save your life.

     Anyone wanting updates may leave message at our toll-free number and I'll get back to you when I can (incidentally, my cell phone will not work in the Wichita area).

     There are many others I would like to contact but their e-mail addresses are not in my computer.


Taken from the Pratt Tribune

June 13, 2001
Bike rider injured

     A Biking Across Kansas rider was involved in an accident at about 1:25 p.m. Monday on U.S. 54 just west of Haviland.

     Bonita Oliva, 58 of Stockton, was riding beside another cyclist when, said Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper John Bertram, their bikes bumped and Oliva traveled across both lanes of traffic. She then hit a 2001 Ford Excursion driven by Donna Tranter, 53 of Eskridge.

     She apparently hit the vehicle at a perpendicular angle, Bertram said. She was darn lucky, really. She received some facial injuries that appear to have been caused by the mirror of the Excursion and quite a lot of lacerations, but it could have been much worse.

"E Mails from Well Wishers To Bonita & Leo Olivia"

     Bonita & Leo you are in our prayers and thoughts in this time. But as in the past with the help of friends and the good people of the Trail everything will turn out just fine and better.
    We send our love and prayers
Larry & Carolyn Mix

    Sorry to hear about Bonita. Send them the Wagon Bed Spring Chapters, get well wishes to them when you see them. I hope that it is nothing serious.
    It's good to here from you, and give Leo and Bonita our regards, they will be in our prayers.
Jeff Troutman
Wagonbed Spring Chapter President

     FYI; I am sure all of you know Leo and Bonita as they are both on the board of the Fort Larned Old Guard and they are the ones who really pushed to get the village site saved.
Take Care George Elmore

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