Six months ago, a Davenport woman was involved in a hit-and-run crash while riding a motorcycle. Today, she's back on a bike with the same kind of determination that may have saved her life.
“It happened October 24th. It was the last nice night for bike riding,” said Jennifer Leahr.
A nice night turned into a nightmare for Leahr. She was riding on the back of a motorcycle on Division and High Streets in Davenport when a man driving a van turned and struck them broadside.
“When he hit us, it broke both of our legs and then, evidently he just didn't stop,” Leahr said.
She doesn't remember what happened that night. All she knows is what people have told her, including that doctors weren't sure if she would make it.
“I had severe head trauma. My skull was fractured from the top of the left side all the way down and across my spine to the base of my right ear,” Leahr added.
She says she was still conscious and her reaction to the injuries was violent. She unwittingly put up a physical fight with medics at the scene and again at the hospital. Her brother, Jon Andresen, wasn't surprised.
“She was very irritable, which is normal, so I wasn't concerned,” Andresen joked.
They laugh about it now, but her injuries were serious. She was put into a drug-induced coma and woke up four days later. What surprised everyone is how quickly she recovered. She was back to work the week after she got out of the hospital. A few months later, she was back on a bike.
Jennifer Leahr likes to ride motorcycles that are big and loud and she prefers riding in groups, where there is safety in numbers, but she wasn't wearing a helmet the night of the accident and she doesn't plan to wear one now.
“Ah, no. And as ridiculous and stupid as it sounds it's a rider's choice,” Leahr said.
She believes it's that kind of irreverent determination that may have kept her alive and allowed her to recover so quickly.
“I would say it's all about attitude. It's more than anything else, I think. Also, my body is a freak of nature,” said Leahr.
Make no mistake, she did have some trepidation about getting back on a motorcycle for the first and even the second time, but she's glad she faced her fears.
“It wasn't nearly as scary than I thought it was gonna be,” Leahr said. “I hit it head-on and I won.”
The man driving the motorcycle the night of the crash suffered severe leg and foot injuries and is still recovering.
As for the man driving the van that hit them and left the scene, he was eventually caught. Paul J. Parrow of Davenport later pleaded guilty to serious injury by a vehicle and 2nd offense OWI.