Print This Page >
Biker on long road to recovery
Hit by a truck on park highway last year, Moreno longs for normalcy.
By Miller N. Resor, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Date: May 16, 2012
Last May, Al Moreno woke up in a hospital bed with his body shattered. With time, he learned he had been blindsided by a delivery truck while biking north on the road to Moose.
A year later, Moreno is back on his feet and fully aware of how drastically his life has been altered.
Over the past year, he has endured seven surgeries stemming from the compound fracture of his left arm, a fractured scapula, two broken ribs, a fractured pelvis, several severely torn muscles and ligaments and a serious infection that took hold in the major abrasions he sustained.
His thigh is now a mess of scar tissue from a series of skin grafts.
The lower part of his back, where a horrible infection took root, had to be removed. Now, a divot the size of a human hand sits in the arch of his back. It is chilling to look at.
On his left arm, Moreno still wears a brace. A long surgical scar runs out of the brace and up his forearm. He can barely bend his wrist, and when he tries to make a fist, his hand looks like it is closed around an invisible apple.
He initially was doing physical therapy three times a day, seven days a week.
Now, he is down to three times a week.
Moreno’s injuries have prevented him from working, but that is only part of his story.
Everyday activities like tying his shoes and washing himself have become extremely difficult since being hit by the truck.
“It’s frustrating,” Moreno said. “Sometimes I get really angry.”
He is a laid-back guy. If it weren’t for the physical injuries he is trying to overcome, it would be hard to imagine him getting riled.
For a year, the fallout from the accident has been with Moreno from the moment he wakes up in the morning until he is able to fall asleep.
“It’s something I’m living with,” he said. “It’s not a normal part of my life.”
A surfer who fell in love with Jackson Hole and road biking in his late 40s, Moreno would spend summers working for his friends Tim and Diana Waycott at The Lexington Jackson Hotel and Suites and winters surfing in Costa Rica.
Most of that has changed now. The Waycotts have looked out for their friend, but Moreno has not been able to surf or bike or work.
“I miss being normal like other folks,” he said. “Working, playing, riding a road bike, surfing — you know, just the normal things in life.
Moreno talks repeatedly about the support he has received from the community: the Waycotts and his other friends, the doctors, nurses and physical therapists in Jackson and Salt Lake City, down to the stranger on the street — all of whom, he says, have gotten him through his ordeal.
“There are a lot of people I would love to thank,” he said. “There were a bunch of people who helped me out during this process, people who reached out and touched my life. There are a lot of people who did that, and I am appreciative of that.”
Mel Orchard III, a lawyer with The Spence Law Firm, is representing Moreno, helping him cover his medical bills and living expenses.
“The other side has been very responsive so far and interested in Al’s condition and medical needs,” Orchard said. “Whether they ultimately take full responsibility of Al and fully compensate him for his losses remains to be seen.”
Moreno doesn’t hold a grudge. He says only the driver of the truck really knows what happened. The driver was cited for unsafe operation and fined $125. The closest Moreno gets to casting blame is wondering “how in the heck somebody could hit somebody on a wide-open road.”
History has proven that section of Highway 26/89/191 to be dangerous. Moreno was hit on the same stretch of road, about a mile past the entrance to the airport, where cyclist Jeff Pool was hit and killed by a drunk driver in 2001.
The North Highway 89 pathway across this section is scheduled for completion this spring.
“I’m pulling through,” Moreno said. “I’m making it the best I can. I don’t want this to be a sad story. But it is kinda screwed up, what happened to me. Thank God I’m alive.”
From 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, The Lexington — Moreno’s home — will host a Bike-Away-From-Work Party to celebrate National Bike to Work day.
Friends have bought Moreno a new bike, although he can’t ride it yet, and they plan to formally present it to him at the event.
Frank Lane is impressed with his friend’s tenacity.
“You gotta be a pretty strong guy to walk away from a hit like that,” Lane said.