A Badly Placed Pigeon Caused a Motorcyclist to Crash Into a Tree

Car accidents can happen out of nowhere. Whether driving a car or riding a motorcycle, an ordinary ride can turn on a dime. Sometimes, it’s due to driver error, and there are many things that you can do to help mitigate those types of accidents. Utilizing safety and driver assistance features, paying attention, and getting rid of distractions can help prevent many accidents. However, sometimes an accident is unavoidable when something so out of the ordinary happens that there’s no accounting for it. That’s what happened to a motorcyclist when a pigeon caused a freak accident.

A pigeon caused a terrible motorcycle accident

A pair of pigeons perched in a tree with frozen branches
A pair of pigeons in a tree | DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP via Getty Images

According to Visor Down, the motorcyclist in question, Matthew Brealy, was out for a ride on his Suzuki GSX-R1000 near Chesterfield, U.K., in April 2011. He was doing everything right: wearing a helmet, obeying the speed limit, and riding safely. Then a low-flying pigeon hit his helmet.

The impact knocked Brealy unconscious. In his unconscious state, Brealy opened up the throttle on his motorcycle and increased his speed from 50 mph to 140 mph. Amazingly, Brealy continued down the road for another 200 yards, unconscious the whole time. 

At 140 mph, Brealy crashed into an oak tree. His injuries included two skull fractures, bleeding in his brain, cracked ribs, a fractured hand, and a broken leg. Brealy only hit the oak tree with a glancing blow, so his injuries could have been much worse had he not been thrown clear upon impact. His motorcycle, meanwhile, was totaled on impact.

The pigeon that hit Brealy’s visor even shattered the lenses of his glasses underneath. Police said that the pigeon caused the accident, and nothing was Brealy’s fault. All in all, it was a freak accident, according to Drummond Law Firm.

Brealy has a long recovery ahead of him

Matthew Brealy spent 10 weeks in the hospital after the motorcycle accident. He had to have surgeries to re-wire his hand, and a titanium rod was inserted into his leg. Due to his injuries, Brealy had to relearn how to walk. His wife, Emma, was pregnant at the time and helped him to recover. 

Even after his release from the hospital, Brealy faced a long recovery ahead of him. However, that he is alive to recover is an amazing thing. It’s a strange thing that it’s all because of a low-flying pigeon.

Learn how to protect yourself when driving a motorcycle

If you’re a motorcyclist or want to learn how to ride, you need to know how to keep yourself safe. Some things are pretty self-explanatory and are universal in all types of driving. Stay focused and alert, don’t drive or ride with distractions, be aware of the surrounding traffic, don’t drive or ride tired, leave room between yourself and other riders, and give yourself a little room between vehicles at stoplights and intersections.

Make sure to have proper safety gear, too. In some states, it’s not illegal to ride a motorcycle without a helmet. However, whatever the legality of wearing a helmet is, you should be wearing one regardless. Do some research on helmets, and be sure to choose the right one. Additionally, always ride with the visor down for a little more protection.

The most important thing you can do to prevent injury from a bird strike or large insect is to wear a full-face helmet. Birds and larger insects are unpredictable, and there’s nothing that you can do to change what they are going to do, but you can take some steps to protect yourself. 

A freak accident like Brealy’s could still be possible if the right conditions are met, but a motorcyclist can help mitigate the risk by wearing the right gear. Even a large grasshopper can cause a black eye, and small birds can cause fractures at speeds as low as 40 mph, so wear a full-face helmet every time you ride.

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