MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Twin Cities family is sharing a story of a terrible accident, because they believe it can save lives.
In early August, 13-year-old Quinn Kiernat was riding his bike on a busy street when a car hit him. The violent impact was captured by a nearby surveillance camera. And now Kiernat’s family and doctors want bicyclists to hear his story.
Kiernat is a teenager on the go. He is a standout goalie in both soccer and hockey. But on Aug. 3, his busy schedule became busier than usual. On that day, the Kiernats were moving to a different south Minneapolis neighborhood.
“I had a choice between going home and helping the movers or going to a friend’s house, so I did the kid choice and went to a friend’s house,” Kiernat said.
The bike ride back to his new home took Kiernat across busy Lyndale Avenue. And the traffic was, in fact, much busier than usual, because it was the first day of the Uptown Art Fair. And, by coincidence, the intersection Kiernat was crossing was being videotaped by a neighbor’s surveillance cameras.
The surveillance video shows Kiernat pause to look both ways. He crosses Lyndale, making it across the nearly stalled southbound lanes. But at the last second Kiernat turns and sees a car, which then hits him.
Kiernat suffered a devastating blow. He was thrown off his bike, and knocked unconscious. The driver of the car that hit him stopped and rushed to Kiernat’s aid.
Paramedics reached Kiernat’s father.
“[They] said, ‘Quinn has been hit by a car,’ and I just couldn’t process it,” Kiernat’s father said.
Emergency crews brought Kiernat to the Hennepin County Medical Center. Kiernat’s Mom, Courtney Kiernat, said it was overwhelming to see her son surrounded by 15 medical personnel.
“They did a cat scan; it looked clear,” Courtney Kiernat said. “He was going to be OK, it was just a sigh of relief.”
Tests showed that despite the terrible impact, Kiernat suffered only a mild concussion. A week after the accident, WCCO-TV obtained video of the collision and showed it to staff at the Hennepin County Medical Center. One of those who saw the video was Dr. Andrew Kiragu, the director of pediatric intensive care.
“The impact is even more graphic than we had expected,” Kiragu said. “His helmet saved his life. That kind of speed, that kind of impact — the risk for very severe traumatic brain injury, or worse, was very high.”
Quinn Kiernat and other family members have chosen not to watch the video. But his mother did.
“As much as it is really hard to look at, we as a family feel we need to use it for good,” she said. “He could have chosen to put that helmet on his handle bars and not wear it.”
Seven weeks after the accident, Quinn Kiernat was cleared to once again play competitive sports. For doctors, his recovery sends a powerful message.
“I don’t think anyone watching this video wouldn’t think it was important to wear a helmet,” Kiragu said.
Kiernat is also riding his bike again.
“I am never going to cross the street the same way again without a light,” he said.
He added: “If I didn’t have a helmet on, I probably would have died.”
The teen’s old helmet was thrown away. He is wearing a new one, and he and his mom are telling everyone his story.
“It’s hard to watch the video, but if we can get [kids] or adults to wear helmets, it’s worth it,” Courtney Kiernat said.
She added that while it might not be cool to wear helmets, it’s certainly better to be safe.
Kiernat’s parents also have another message bicyclists. Sometimes when a child is injured on a bike it can take hours to identify them. Kiernat’s cell phone did not have a pass code, and paramedics were then able to go to his contacts and immediately find phone numbers for his mom and dad.