Quick Action by Orange County Sheriff Saves Motorcycle Rider

Jim Sherwood is a motorcycle enthusiast and a very lucky man.

He was six miles into a rough trail in Silverado Canyon when another rider clipped him on a corner, forcing him to crash and causing life threatening injuries.

"I remember being absolutely, feeling instantly pulverized," Sherwood said.

He was alone, couldn't move, or even roll over after he swerved and hit a tree branch.

"I remember letting out a scream and I never yell when I get hurt," Sherwood said. "At this point, I'm on my belly. I see the embankment and I'm right near the edge of this drop which had to be 3000 feet."

Hours went by before two mountain bikers found him and called for help.

Orange County Rescue got the call, and Bill Fitzgerald was the pilot of the flight rescue team that day.

"It was a difficult rescue because we knew it was going to be up at altitude," Fitzgerald said.

There was also heavy dust, and Sherwood was under a canopy of trees.

"It was my job to get the aircraft there and our paramedics on the ground safely," Fitzgerald said.

Sherwood said when Fitzgerald arrived, he "held an incredible hover" and managed to drop down one of his men to assist Sherwood.

"We always have to assume the worst and in this case it was pretty much the worst," said Drew McMillan, a sheriff's paramedic.

Sherwood said his femur had shattered right its socket into about four pieces, and continued into hit pelvis.

"Those are really large bones, there's major vessels that go through that area," McMillan said.

McMillan and Jim Slikker, another flight paramedic, were able to carefully move Sherwood to a stretcher and buckle him in so he could be safely lifted into the chopper.

During a visit with the flight team, Sherwood got a chance to closely examine the huey helicopter "Duke 6" that lifted him off the mountain.

In fact, he'd trained on a huey at a military academy when he was young.

"He mentioned he had worked on Hueys … and then once our aircraft was coming, he recognized it immediately," McMillan said.

"I heard the distinct, since I'm familiar with them, thump, thump, thump of the roto blades of a huey going up the mountain," Sherwood said.

Because of the skill of the flight team, Sherwood is able to walk, and he might even fly helicopters again.

"To actually be able to see somebody that we've treated and see how well he's doing, it's amazing," Slikker said.

A team of doctors performed seven hours of reconstructive surgery on Sherwood. He is 90 percent recovered and plans to ride his motorcycle again very soon.

"They're going ot have to rename [the helicopter] after me," Sherwood said. "That's going to be a must."

Contact Us