Distracted driving crash left Bakersfield man in coma

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) - A California motorcycle rider was almost killed when he hit an SUV and according to him, a cell phone is to blame.

On July 7, John Weisheitinger was riding his motorcycle near Bakersfield, Calif., when he said a woman in an SUV turned in front of him.

"She stopped, she looked up, she had her phone in her hand to her head," Weisheitinger said.

Weisheitinger said he was only going 40 miles an hour, but couldn't stop in time.

"I tried to swerve around her and I hit her just behind the right rear passenger door," Weisheitinger said.

He said if she hadn't been on her cell phone she might have seen him and not turned in front of him.

"I fractured my right ankle. I broke 22 ribs and collapsed both my lungs, and I got a dissected aorta," Weisheitinger said.

He said he spent three weeks in a medically induced coma and ran up more than a half a million dollars in medical bills all because someone wanted to talk on a cell phone while driving.

"When you are driving a 3,000 pound car, it takes a responsibility. It's not about you, it's about the people that you could hurt around you," said Weisheitinger. "And that responsibility means 'hey, it can wait'."

Police said it's another example of the dangers of doing other things while driving.

"Distracted driving is an issue because it doesn't allow you to perceive the hazards in the road and then respond to those hazards," said the public information's officer with the Bakersfield Police Department, Michaela Sims.

There are so many potential distractions when you are behind the wheel--texting, the radio, talking on your cell phone, even eating--and anyone of them could be distraction that causes you to lose focus for the split second that changes someone's life.

"The only safe speed to do any of those things when someone is driving is zero miles per hour," said Sims.

It's a lesson learned too late to keep Weisheitinger's life from being changed forever.

He now must wear a pacemaker for the rest of his life.

"I am lucky I wasn't going that fast," Weisheitinger said. "They said that I could have died real easily."

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