When Mason Cass came upon the wreck along Bent Mountain Road the night of Nov. 9, the scene was surreal.
A black cow stood in the middle of U.S. 221, near the intersection with the Poage Valley Road extension.
A mangled Harley Davidson was tipped into a ditch on the right roadside about 50 feet away. Laying on his side below the animal was the leather-clad rider, right on top of the double yellow line. Between the cow, the bike and the motorcyclist, Doug Thompson was in the worst shape by far.
He was in and out of consciousness, struggling to breathe, bleeding from his mouth. “His face was a bloody mess,” Cass told me. “There was blood all the way from the center line to the side of the road.”
Cass was afraid to touch the rider because he feared he might have broken his neck. The driver in the car ahead of Cass, who was the first on the accident scene, tipped Thompson onto his back as the cow limped away.
Both men yelled at Thompson to stay awake until paramedics arrived. They got there quickly, took one look at the accident victim and shoved him into an ambulance, which raced off to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital.
Thompson, 64, who lives in the Sandy Flats area of Floyd County with his wife of 33 years, Amy, is still there. Last week his condition had been upgraded to “good,” Carilion spokesman Eric Earnhardt said.
But that term is relative. Thompson is out of the proverbial woods, so to speak. He’s conscious and can talk. He’s no longer on IV painkillers and he’s breathing and eating semi-soft food on his own. But among other injuries, he has a badly mangled right ankle, right foot and face.
He broke his foot and his ankle and fractured every bone in his face except for his jaw, Amy Thompson said. Thompson also suffered a closed-head-injury, and that’s left him with some memory problems. Recovery is going to be a long haul.
Initial reports characterized Thompson as a motorcyclist and freelance writer/photographer for the Floyd County Press. Indeed, that night he was on his way back home from covering a Floyd County High football game in Augusta County.
But the description barely scratches the surface of the big lunk of a guy I first met in 2009, when he invited me up to Floyd for lunch one day. When he learned the paper would pick up the tab, he grinned and proceeded to order a big steak, the most expensive item on the menu.
It was then I first got a glimpse into the many hats he’s worn in a storied life: kid journalist, hard-charging reporter, Washington power broker, political consultant, internet news visionary, semi-retired redneck curmudgeon, and late-in-life motorcycle enthusiast.
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