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Bicyclist saved by passerby after crash with deer Wednesday in Adams Township

Ray Sielski, general manager at Butler Color Press, is photographed in action during a cycling race. Submitted photo.

Ray Sielski doesn’t remember much about Wednesday morning, May 15, when he was hit by a jumping deer as he rode his bike along Hammond Road in Adams Township.

What he does remember is how he was pulled from the middle of the road by a passerby.

“I came to in the arms of Kayla Payne,” he said.

Payne was returning home after dropping off her child at school that morning when she said she saw Sielski lying near 170 Hammond Road.

“I didn’t know what had happened. I didn’t know how long he’d been there,” she said. “It couldn’t have been 5 to 10 minutes since I was in that area.”

Sielski, of Adams Township, had been on his early-morning bike ride, in training for an upcoming 78-mile race in Allentown. Now with four broken ribs, a crushed bike helmet and a lot of road rash, he said there is only one part of the story worth telling.

“I’m more interested in letting people know there are good people out there in your community,” he said, referencing Payne.

“I travel that road pretty much every day,” Payne said. “It’s definitely not the way I planned to start my Wednesday morning. I’m glad I was where I was.”

The crash

Riding 20 to 25 miles every day before work is nothing new for Sielski.

He’s been part of the 12 person Ag3r — Butler Health System bicycle racing team for the last 18 years, he said he usually clocks 4,000 miles a year on his bike.

“I’ve been cycling most of my adult years,” he said. “It’s nothing for me to be out on roads around the county.”

The race he was training for is called the Hincapie Fondo, and is 78-miles long. Having never rode it before, Sielski said he had been training since the weather broke, and planned to be in training until the race took place June 1.

He said he’s always trying out different routes on his bike while he trains.

“Butler County is great for cycling. It’s safe … usually safe,” he said. “No one thinks twice … you don’t expect anything bad to happen.”

Sielski said it was clear and sunny on Wednesday. He left his house around 7:30 a.m. wearing his helmet, his cycling jersey, shorts and shoes, and turned on the lights on his bike.

The route he chose was familiar to him, he said. He only remembers a few details from the time he started to descend Hammond Road toward Three Degree Road.

“My memory is foggy. A deer jumped out and hit me, airborne, took me out,” he said. “I don’t remember anything.”

Payne said she was driving in the opposite direction Sielski was riding. Though she did not see the collision with the deer, she did notice the biker in the road.

“’Why is that man lying in the road?’ was my first thought,” she said. “He looked like he was trying to get up but didn’t have the strength.”

Payne said her mother and sister are nurses, but she doesn’t have any formal medical training.

“I couldn’t just stop where I was. I drove up and found a spot to pull off, then ran down (to him),” she said. “He was very disoriented; he didn’t know where he was.”

She asked Sielski if there was anyone she could call for him, and ended up informing his wife of the crash.

“I said to him, ‘I really need to get you out of the road.’ You can pick up a lot of speed coming down the road,” she said.

Payne said she could hear another car approaching from the top of the hill, and ran up to stop them. The driver was able to call 911 and alert other drivers, she said.

The aftermath

According to Sielski, medical personnel from Quality EMS were on scene fast and were efficient when transporting him to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital’s trauma unit in Pittsburgh.

“Those people are real professionals,” he said, explaining that one medic held his hand during the ride and kept him conscious and alert.

Sielski was in the hospital overnight for his injuries: four broken ribs, road rash and crushed muscles. He said he has not seen how his bike fared the crash.

“It’s here, it’s in the garage,” he said.

While on scene, and with the police officer’s permission, Payne took a picture of Sielski’s crushed helmet to show her children.

“This is a great example to be able to show them,” she said. “Now I can say, ‘Hey, mommy always tells you to wear your helmet. This is why.’”

Sielski said the Ag3r team and its director, Henry Dimmick, are advocates for bike safety measures. Since the crash, he said, the group has reached out to him about the healing process.

“We spread safety everywhere we go,” he said.

While he’s disappointed he won’t be able to ride in the June 1 race, Sielski said speaking of Payne’s heroism is important.

“There’s some really good people out there,” he said.

Payne said what caused her to pull over was the thought of those who loved Sielski.

“All I was thinking was that he’s somebody’s dad, somebody’s husband. I would hope if it was my loved one, someone would stop,” she said.

Hammond Road will never be just some road she travels on, Payne said.

“Every time I come down over that hill, I slow down where I found him,” she said. “If he had that accident 10 minutes earlier, would I have been able to stop?”

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