Dr. Charles Yelverton of Vermillion has special reason to be…

Dr. Charles Yelverton of Vermillion has special reason to be… Dr. Charles Yelverton of Vermillion answers questions Friday as he shows second-graders at Austin Elementary School x-rays taken of his broken ribs following a bike accident that occurred two years ago. Students also got a close look at the bike helmet � now cracked � he was wearing at the time that saved him from suffering a serious head injury. By David Lias For over a decade now, Dr. Charles Yelverton of Vermillion has played a leading role in promoting bicycle helmet use in the community, especially among children.

Being a practicing physician with the Vermillion Medical Clinic and a member of the Vermillion Rotary Club has its advantages in this endeavor.

Both organizations, along with the Yankton Medical Clinic, annually provide, free of charge, bike helmets to all second-graders in the community.

On top of all that, Yelverton, his wife Barb, and other local biking enthusiasts � known as the Prairie Pedallers � make a point to visit Austin Elementary School each spring before the helmets are given to the kids.

They want to make sure the young people realize how important it is to actually use the helmets while biking.

Yelverton has a new tool in his arsenal to help convince kids that bike helmets save lives.

The physician is still seeing patients, still taking part in long rides on his bike, still enjoying life � because he always wears his helmet.

On Friday, April 29, in a short program held by the Prairie Pedallers at Austin Elementary, Yelverton showed kids x-rays of the ribs he broke in a recent biking accident.

He showed students his cracked bike helmet � which saved him from being much more severely injured. And, who knows? It may have even saved his life.

�I had a bike crash in May of 2003,� he said. �It was on a minimum maintenance road over in Nebraska, a couple miles northeast of Newcastle. I was going down a steep hill that was rutty, and just lost control, probably going about 20 miles per hour.�

Yelverton flew over his bike�s handlebars, landing on his head and right shoulder.

�I had nine broken ribs and a broken clavicle,� he said. �I had a chest tube to drain the blood out of my chest. I was in McKennan (Hospital) for six days.

�And I don�t actually remember the impact,� Yelverton said. �I don�t remember from the time I hit to about 10 hours later.�

Fortunately, he wasn�t biking alone. He was in an outing with the Prairie Pedallers, and his wife, Barb, was first on the accident scene.

One of their group was sent to get their car parked in the vicinity. They drove the injured doctor to the local emergency room, and he was taken by air ambulance to McKennan Hospital.

Yelverton has been an avid biker for years. He�s proof that experience can�t guarantee safety.

He blames his accident on too much speed combined with the rough road.

And if he hadn�t been wearing his helmet?

�It would have been bad news,� Yelverton said. �I would have probably had a serious head injury.�

The Vermillion physician suffered a small abrasion on his forehead �right underneath where the cut was. Other than that, it took me awhile trying to process my memory while I was in the hospital.

�I kept asking questions ? and I think people just got tired of me asking the questions over and over again, and that was my brain trying to re-process everything.�

Friday was more than just the usual bike helmet day at Austin Elementary. It marked the 12th year of the event � meaning an entire generation of second-graders have received both the free helmets, and the message of how important it is to use them.

The helmets are provided free of charge each year through the joint efforts of the Vermillion Medical Clinic, the Yankton Medical Clinic and the Vermillion Rotary Club.

�We buy 400 helmets total � 280 of them go to Yankton, and 120 go here,� Yelverton said. �Half of the money (for purchasing them) is from the Yankton Medical Clinic and the Vermillion Medical Clinic, and the other half is from the Rotary Club.�

Simply supplying the helmets is a start to safer biking. But for that goal to be reached, young people have to be convinced to wear them.

Yelverton believes they are getting the message.

�It�s a slow process; I think it�s gotten better over the years,� he said. �I don�t have any studies to prove it, but when you see kids out and about, I see the helmets a lot more ? I think more are using them.�

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