BEATRICE -- It would be easy for Dennis Lyons to feel angry.
The 42-year-old Beatrice man was in a serious motorcycle crash last month, with a long road to recovery ahead.
He can’t feed himself. He requires help doing everyday tasks. He can’t hold his newborn daughter.
Despite the hardships, Lyons was all smiles Friday night when bikers and hot rod enthusiasts from across the state came to Beatrice for a bike show and cruise night fundraiser.
The event was held at the local Sonic Drive-In, where Lyons is a managing partner. Bikers from several clubs were in attendance, the local Jay Husker Auto Club helped to bring in a number of hot rods and classic cars and several other friends and family members attended to show support for Lyons and wish him well.
The benefit is just one example of what Lyons said has been a massive outpouring of support from his two communities -- bikers and Beatrice -- that help him stay positive during the most difficult time in his life.
“A lot of these people I don’t know very well, but they’re reaching out because I’m part of a motorcycle club and that’s what we do,” Lyons said. “We help each other. We’re just thankful to everybody in the community.”
The crash occurred on May 8 when Lyons was riding his bright orange Harley-Davidson Road Glide on Court Street. He was heading home after visiting his sister as he approached 12th Street.
A northbound car was at the stop sign. The driver appeared to be stopping, then darted into the intersection as Lyons approached.
Lyons clearly remembers locking the brakes on his bike, trying to stop before he hit the Buick Regal.
Then things went dark.
“I blacked out as soon as I hit the car,” he recalled. “Witnesses said that I flew over the car. I came to and I tried standing up. As I stood up I looked down and couldn’t find my arms. I couldn’t move my arms. They were broken and behind me. I probably fell on them and then I heard somebody holler not to get up.”
Before being taken to the trauma unit in Lincoln he vaguely remembers talking to police and rescue workers, who told Lyons to stay with them as he fell in and out of consciousness.
“I didn’t know if I was going to make it,” Lyons said.
His wife, Jessica Lyons, got a call from one of Lyons’ brothers and made it to the scene before rescue workers loaded him to the ambulance.
Lyons’ right arm was broken in eight places. His left elbow and collarbone both shattered. Pieces of his spine were broken along with nine broken ribs, all on the left side.
Lyons has had three surgeries, and 99 staples were removed from his arms last week.
He’s currently back at home, depending on others as he adjusts to a new way of life. He can use his hands to operate a remote control, but can only lift his arms a couple of inches. He is able to walk up and down the block before the pain sets in. He sleeps and spends most of his time in a chair in the living room.
In the same room is a swing where he can watch his newborn daughter, Ruby. Lyons is thankful he was able to be in the operating room when his daughter was born just over a week ago, but is still unable to hold her.
“It’s tough right now,” he said. “If it wasn’t for my sister and all my club brothers (he is part of the local Defiant Few Motorcycle Club) stopping by and people stopping by to help I don’t know what I’d do. It’s terrible that I can’t hold my own daughter. It’s frustrating.”
In three weeks Lyons goes back to the doctor and expects to learn more about his recovery. One thing is for sure, he wants to get back on a bike.
“My opinion of bikes hasn’t changed, my opinion of other drivers has," he said. "A friend of mine told me to always look at other vehicles like they’re trying to kill you. That’s how I look at other vehicles now.”
Aaron Blythe, the 20-year-old who was driving the Buick that Lyons crashed into, was cited for failure to yield after the crash.
“I’m not angry at the driver,” Lyons said. “I just wish he would have taken that second look and watched for me.”
In Lyons’ mind, that’s the moral of his story. Look out for motorcycles.
There’s no going back or undoing everything he’s been through. But if one person hears his story and takes the extra second to look twice at an intersection, potentially saving another biker’s life, it’s enough to put his mind at ease.
“We’re out there, we have families," he said, adding, "we want to make it home.”