CPR saves life of Route 6 rider

Lisa Depies

A leisurely Sunday motorcycle ride through Henry County quickly turned to moments of terror and panic for a group of riders from Chicago.

"There was a group of three of us heading westbound on Route 6 on Aug. 18 and we were just where the interstate passes over the road between Atkinson and Annawan," said rider Steven Richards. "One rider complained of chest pains, so we pulled over under the bridge to rest. At that point, he went down."

The rider, Richard Lyons, was in full cardiac arrest, remembers Richards.

"We were trying to do CPR, but we didn't have a clue. (Lyons) was blue. His eyes were open, but none of us had any hope," said Richards.

Scottie Morris of Colona and his girlfriend, Dawn Miller, also were on a motorcycle ride that Sunday afternoon.

"We were trying to meet some folks to grab a bite to eat, but it seemed like everything was preventing us from going," said Morris.

Entrance ramp traffic onto Interstate 80 initially slowed down the couple.

"We were on I-80, but my girlfriend hates riding on the interstate and so do I, so we got off and onto Route 6," he said.

Heading toward Annawan, the couple discovered a car stopped in the middle of the route and then saw three motorcycles and a gentleman laying nearby.

"You immediately think the worse," said Morris. "At that point, I thought there'd been an accident."

A former volunteer with the Colona Fire Department, Morris sprung into action.

"There were no doubts in my mind that I was going to jump in and do something. I couldn't just stand by," he said.

"I ran up and told everyone I was in charge. I hadn't done CPR in 13 or 14 years, but it was just like someone had hung a screen in front of my face with instructions," he said.

"We never saw someone so efficient," said Richards. "When he came and said he was in charge, it was like someone had taken a 747 jet off our shoulders. We didn't want to do nothing, but we didn't know what we were suppose to do."

"The state of the other folks there was pure panic," remembers Morris. "The Colona Fire Department was really good about doing extensive CPR training. I'd learned a lot and that training really did kick in."

Morris gave CPR to Lyons for 15 to 20 minutes before the ambulance arrived.

"Those 15 to 20 minutes seemed like hours. I was worn out after," he said.

Through it all, Lyons remained "blue as a pair of jeans with his eyes fogged over" said Morris. "I was skeptical if he was going to make it, I really didn't think there was much hope. I also immediately said prayers for him because I figured prayers wouldn't hurt."

Lyons was taken to Hammond-Henry Hospital in Geneseo before being transfered to Trinity (Unity Point) in Rock Island.

"They're expecting him to make almost a full recovery," said Richards.

Medical staff at the hospitals credit Morris with helping ensure Lyons survival.

"I called Hammond-Henry afterwards to see if he'd made it, and they told me I'd done fantastic work, and that's when I got emotional," said Morris. "I feel very blessed to have been the one to help him."

Though Richards was riding with Lyons that Sunday afternoon, he'd only met the man a few minutes prior.

"We'd met up maybe 35 or 40 minutes prior because nobody likes to ride alone. It was our first trip to the area, we were just following Route 6 across the state," said Richards.

Though he was unfamiliar with the Henry County area before Aug. 18, the county now holds a special spot in his heart.

"There are just such fantastic people. The folks in your area are just wonderful people. When I retire, I really do want to move there," he said. "(In Chicago), people don't get involved. They don't stop and help. They just pass by."

With Lyons leaving the scene by ambulance, his bike was left behind. Morris said he asked a farmer near the incident site if he could keep Lyons' motorcycle safe and he agreed.

"(The riders from Chicago) were flabbergasted by that," said Morris.

"For that farmer to help was wonderful," said Richards. "The whole situation just give you that warm and fuzzy feeling."