Burlington woman’s first aid training helps save man injured in motorcycle accident

Posted May 15, 2012, at 3:02 p.m.
Last modified May 15, 2012, at 8:03 p.m.

BURLINGTON, Maine — Tracey Sprague is no medic, but the first aid training she got as a Girl Scout leader probably helped save the life of a motorcyclist who crashed in front of her home, she said Tuesday.

The 51-year-old retired cashier and deli cook was just coming through the front door of her home at 256 Long Ridge Road after saying goodbye to her visiting parents when she heard the crash and saw a helmetless man with a motorcycle atop him across the road, she said. It was about 10:30 a.m. Monday, police said.

Sprague yelled for her husband, Phillip, to call 911 and ran across Long Ridge Road to the man, who was lying face down, unconscious and not breathing much, if at all.

“He had his head down into the ditch and I hollered back over to my granddaughter, told her to get me a towel because he was bleeding over his head and face. He was unconscious,” Sprague said Tuesday.

Then Sprague said she saw that the motorcyclist’s face was turning purple.

“I told my husband, ‘You had better tell them to hurry up because he’s not going to make it,’” Sprague said.

Sprague gently used the towel 13-year-old Jordana Sprague brought her to clear blood from the motorcyclist’s mouth and nose. Otherwise she followed the directions that Penobscot Regional Communication Center dispatchers relayed through her husband and kept the motorcyclist as still as possible, she said.

The man started to breathe better immediately and his purple coloring faded, Sprague said.

The motorcyclist, 29-year-old Luke Shorey of Burlington, suffered head injuries and leg abrasions and was flown by LifeFlight helicopter to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, where he remains, said Deputy Patty McLaughlin of the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department.

Shorey was in serious condition late Tuesday afternoon, a hospital spokesman said.

McLaughlin said she believes that Shorey had come around a sharp curve near Little Eskutassis Pond heading toward Lincoln and did not see the car leaving Sprague’s driveway.

Rather than hit the car in front of him, which also was heading toward Lincoln and was driven by Tracey Sprague’s father, Millard Day Sr., Shorey dumped the bike after a lengthy skid, McLaughlin and Phillip Sprague said.

Shorey “was going too fast to stop,” said McLaughlin, who isn’t sure yet whether he will be charged for driving too fast for conditions.

Phillip Sprague believes his wife helped save Shorey’s life. McLaughlin’s distance from the accident scene — she patrols much of northern Penobscot County — kept her from the scene until after the Penobscot Valley Hospital ambulance took Shorey to the hospital to be flown to Bangor.

“I think in a way if he would have laid there he might have died. She did a really good job without panicking,” Jordana Sprague said of her grandmother. “She was calm and cool and collected.”

Shorey “was groaning pretty hard. It bothered me so bad I had to go back to my granddaughter. I went over and consoled her. I felt so much pain for him,” said Phillip Sprague, who was in a motorcycle accident himself years ago. “It was emotional. I told them on the phone, ‘Hurry up and get here because he’s really in a lot of pain.’”

The Spragues were frustrated that they couldn’t do more to help Shorey. Mindful of the dispatcher’s warning that moving him could cause greater injury, Tracey Sprague could only hold Shorey’s hand, she said. The motorcycle stayed partly atop him and gasoline slowly poured onto his legs until paramedics arrived.

“He squeezed my hand,” she said. “He was making a lot of noise and in a lot of pain, groaning. I think he was trying to scream but he wasn’t able to get that part out.”

Follow BDN writer Nick Sambides Jr. on Twitter at @NickSam2BDN.

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