After a bicycle accident in which he was seriously injured, JJ Mendez Jr., an island man and member of the Wampanoag tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), is continuing his long recovery process.
In early June, Mendez was riding his electric bike down the County Road bike path when he turned a blind bend and crashed into a tree.
Despite wearing a motocross helmet, Mendez sustained significant injuries: a brain fracture, fractures to the hand, right femur, pelvis, and ribs, and cuts to the liver, spleen, and a punctured lung.
A couple driving by watched the accident, as did a neighbor who heard the impact and called 911.
When Mendez arrived at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital he was flown to Massachusetts General Hospital by MedFlight and taken straight to the intensive care unit.
A GoFundMe donation page was founded by some friends of Mendez to cover all expenses related to his recovery, including travel expenses to and from MassGeneral (boat tickets and gasoline), along with any medical bills not covered by insurance or the tribe’s financial support are.
Mendez is expected to be out of work for six to nine months, so GoFundMe’s money will also be used for his regular bills like other insurance, car expenses, and school.
All funds are transferred to Mendez’s bank account, which is jointly managed by his mother, Bethany Scanlon.
“Personally, as his mother, I can say that I am incredibly emotional and grateful for the incredible support you have given my son. A big thank you to Cole Powers, Lara Dario and Tim Williamson for putting together this GoFundMe page for JJ, ”wrote Scanlon in an update on the fundraising page.
Mendez recently underwent facial fracture surgery and is now at his home on Martha’s Vineyard to begin the healing process.
He will visit home nurses and physical therapists until he is in good shape to go to rehab, but Scanlon wrote on the GoFundMe page that Mendez is “doing remarkably well considering all of his injuries.”
“He’s positive and his determined mindset will get him to heal as soon as possible. He adapts to the fact that he needs someone to do pretty much anything for him (hard for someone who is very independent), but he’s fine nonetheless, ”she wrote.
Scanlon told the Times in a telephone interview that while an accident like this is “any mother’s worst nightmare,” she is grateful that the situation is not worse and expressed her deep gratitude for the people who started GoFundMe and donated money.
So far, GoFundMe has almost hit its $ 20,000 donation goal just four days after the site went live.
“Getting that call is something you never want as a mother,” Scanlon said, referring to the call she received after Mendez’s accident. “It’s just one of those crazy things you can never really prepare for. I had just spoken to him 15 minutes before the accident. “
Scanlon called the rescue workers and medical staff to help Mendez after his accident and said the Steamship Authority would be accommodating if the family had to get on a boat to visit Mendez at MassGeneral.
Scanlon said she was grateful that Mendez was wearing a helmet, which most likely saved him from a worse outcome.
“His motocross helmet cracked in two places so I think that really saved him,” said Scanlon.
As for the immediate support for Mendez’s recovery, Scanlon said there are few words to describe her gratitude.
“It is absolutely incredible and incredibly emotional to see how many people support J. It’s going to be a long road so he will really need a lot of help in the future, ”said Scanlon. “I just want to thank the community for their overwhelming support.”
Mendez also spoke to the Times on a phone call from home and said he showed his friend his new electric bike in the waning evening hours when it was “fairly dark”.
“It was kind of bad judgment. It was quite dark outside, so visibility was poor. There was a little S-turn on the bike path on County Road. I saw the tree and tried to avoid it, but couldn’t avoid it in time, ”said Mendez. “When I woke up at MassGeneral, I knew something really bad had happened – everyone was looking at me and they were all looking very worried. Then I was told about all the injuries I had. “
Despite the tragic situation, Mendez said he was glad it wasn’t worse and looked forward to his path of recovery with a positive attitude.
“You can’t worry about it, you can’t worry about how long recovery will take. I’ll just take it one day at a time. I am making more and more progress every day, which keeps me optimistic and motivated, ”said Mendez.
Mendez thanked his family, friends, and other islanders for donating money to GoFundMe to aid his recovery.
“It’s absolutely incredible – I can’t express how much I appreciate all the support. I never thought we could achieve this goal [of $20,000]let alone how quickly we got there, ”said Mendez. “I am happy to know that we have such people here – such a community makes a lot of things easier.”