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Bike accident prompts call for safer riding

Dentist says injuries could have been avoided with helmet

Nathan VanderKlippe
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Aug 09/02) - A 12-year-old Yellowknife boy is drinking from a syringe after crashing face-first into the pavement in a bicycle accident.

Christopher Yendo cut his upper lip, banged up his chin, slammed three of his top teeth back and tore the gum, loosened an additional three teeth and knocked one completely out.

The injuries happened when he fell over the handlebars on his bike. He was trying to land a jump at the city skateboard park, located behind Ecole St. Joseph.

"He was pretty banged up. It looked like most of his mouth caved in," said Sally Nayally, Yendo's mother.

Now Nayally is calling on skateboard and bike riders to practice more safety at the park.

"They need to be careful," she said.

Yendo owns a helmet, but wasn't wearing it at the time.

That's a typical story at the skateboard park. On a recent afternoon, 14 youth were out playing. Only three were wearing helmets. A posted sign warns that "proper safety equipment must be worn."

Brandon Heather, a skateboarder at the park, wasn't wearing a helmet. He said park users skate and ride at their own risk, and he's happy to leave it that way.

"I'm not as comfortable with one on," he said, but added, "I think people that are learning should use one because a lot of things can happen."

Bikes at the park can be particularly dangerous, said Shawn McCann, a member of the Yellowknife Boardsports Association.

"You're falling from a higher height, you don't have the same range of control. It worries me when there's bikes out there," she said.

"And there's nothing we can do because it's not our park," she added. "There's no supervisor there."

Hassan Adam, the dentist who reconstructed pieces of Yendo's mouth, said these kinds of accidents are fairly common in the summer.

"We'll see a few from bicycle accidents, at least one every two weeks, and with skateboards we see a few as well," he said. "The most we see is where they'll break the tooth in half."

Adam said if Yendo had been wearing a helmet," it probably have saved him knocking those teeth out."

Mouth guards are a good idea, too, he said. And in case of an accident where a tooth falls out, he suggested keeping it in milk or underneath the injured person's tongue. A tooth stands a better chance of living after reinsertion of those steps are taken, he said.

Yendo, meanwhile, has a huge swollen lip and a pair of bandaged wrists. He can hardly talk. Asked how he was doing, he said simply, "bad."