By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — An unusual clothing purchase may well have saved a Minnesota man’s life.

Jim Rasmussen, 74, decided to go for a motorcycle ride around his hometown of Lake Minnewaskaa on a late July day. He has been riding for at least 35 years.

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Just a few miles from his home in Miltona, he says a woman did not see him and turned left. They collided, and he was thrown about 15 feet. The next thing he remembers is people hovering around him.

Kyle Grinager, the assistant chief of Miltona’s volunteer fire department, says he was prepared for the worst when he got the call.

Jim Rasmussen wearing his blow-up safety vest (credit: CBS)

Jim Rasmussen wearing his blow-up safety vest (credit: CBS)

“I was mentally prepared for a really bad accident. Blood, bones sticking out,” Grinager said.

Instead, the best possible scenario awaited.

“He was fine. It was like, ‘OK, this is not normal,'” Grinager said.

And that may be because of his gear.

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Rasmussen was wearing a sturdy helmet, a jacket and a unique blow-up vest that he and his wife bought last year at biker conference in Montana.

“You pull it and it inflates supposedly in a tenth of a second, but it doesn’t stay inflated very long,” Rasmussen said. “I imagine you look like a Michelin Man.”

A ripcord tethers to the handle bar, and the vest inflates if the biker flies off.

“If it didn’t save my life, it saved me from having a broken neck probably,” Rasmussen said.

He also believes good luck accompanied his gamble of an investment.

“It would have been worth twice the money, 10 times the money to me,” Rasmussen said.

Grinager says, as a first responder, he would recommend the vest to anybody.

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Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield