Ride of Silence held in honor of injured cyclist
Published 10:28 am Friday, May 20, 2022
Sounds of chatter and laughter are accompanied by bicycle tires traveling on paved roads on most Tuesday nights when about 50 members of the Ladies Ride group go out to ride.
On Wednesday evening (May 18), only the buzzing sound of a group of cyclists, wearing neon yellow shirts, could be heard.
Ladies Ride participated in “Ride of Silence” – a national, annual event where cyclists ride in silence in either memory of or in honor of cyclists who have died or injured. In total silence, groups ride a planned route in their areas.
About 30 people cycled eight miles around town in honor of Jill Paxon.
Paxson, 50, was critically injured on Tuesday, April 12. The Washington Daily News interviewed Paxson’s friend Liane Harsh who is a member of the Ladies Ride group.
Harsh owns and operates the Inner Banks Outfitters at 1050 E Main Street – a bicycle repair and biking materials shop.
According to Harsh, Paxson was hit by a car traveling 45 miles per hour. She was thrown 45 feet away from the scene of the accident. Paxson’s arms, legs, sternum, jaw and 17 ribs were broken.
Miraculously, neither her brain nor spine were damaged, Harsh said.
“On that level, we’re lucky,” Harsh said.
Paxson wore a helmet at the time of the accident.
Only a mile from her home, Paxson collided with a pickup truck pulling a trailer filled with lawn equipment, Harsh shared. Paxson was on her way to complete a warm-up ride before meeting up with the Ladies Ride group.
The accident happened as Paxson was turning left onto Highway 32 (River Road) at a fork in the road. The pick up truck was traveling in the opposite direction.
Harsh said she doesn’t know how the accident happened, and Paxson doesn’t remember how it happened.
“It wasn’t a road rage thing. I don’t think,” Harsh said. “I think it was truly an accident.”
When the accident happened, Harsh received a call about an injured cyclist. She knew it had to be Paxson, because she knew Paxson would be warming up.
“That’s how I kind of knew it was her,” Harsh said. “Somebody called me and said a cyclist got hit. It was 4:30 p.m. and I was like, ‘I bet it’s Jill.’”
Paxson remained in the Intensive Care Unit for about two weeks then she was transferred to Pam Health Specialty Hospital of Rocky Mount where she is currently recovering.
She is 36 days into recovery.Harsh believes it will take a year at least for Paxson to recover.
“She has a huge, long road to recovery,” Harsh said.
It will be the longest road Paxson will travel in the ten years (at least) she’s been cycling.
Despite her jaw being wired shut, Paxson can still communicate and she is alert, Harsh said. Harsh believes Paxson’s jaw will be unwired on Wednesday, May 25.
She said Paxson was the strongest and fastest rider of the cycling group; however, being on bedrest for more than a month has caused her muscles to shrink.
“Here’s a person that rode her bike every single day, and she’s been in bed for 30-something days, but she’s alive and we are just very thankful for that,” Harsh said.
“I was not ready to lose her. I’ll tell you that right now,” she continued.
Harsh has seen her friend have good days and days where it is evident Paxson is frustrated with the medical equipment attached to her. “She’s frustrated with not being able to move. You can see the frustration…,” Harsh said.
Harsh visits Paxson once a week and says her friend shows improvement at each visit.
Harsh would like people to have a greater awareness of their surroundings and not be distracted, “because it’s crucial.”
“Listen, look, always double check,” Harsh said.
For people who have not met Paxson, Harsh described her friend as funny, kind, intelligent and “dedicated to becoming a good cyclist.”
Seeing the amount of outreach and support for Paxson has been “amazing” for Harsh to see. “It speaks volumes for the person that Jill is…,” Harsh said. “People are amazing.”
A week after the accident, Harsh had difficulty focusing on her business, because many of Jill’s friends were calling asking about Paxson and how to help. It is why Harsh began posting updates about Paxson to Inner Banks Outfitters’ Facebook page.
To help pay medical expenses a GoFundMe page was created called, “Climb the Hill with Jill.” As of May 19, the page has raised $30,150.