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Boy says he’s alive because of bicycle helmet

Todd Stevens, 11, shows off the helmet that he believes saved his life and the scars he got when he was hit by a truck while riding his scooter. His grandfather, Leon Stevens, had bought the helmet for his grandson three hours before the accident. (The Vicksburg Post/C. TODD SHERMAN)

[06/08/01] The time between the purchase and the accident was three hours.

At 11 a.m Memorial Day, a grandfather walked into Wal-Mart SuperCenter and bought his grandson a bicycle helmet. Three hours later, the boy was riding his scooter on Tiffentown Road in Bovina when a truck hit him.

The helmet made a difference.

The pickup that hit Todd Stevens, 11, of Utica, was going 30 mph, according to reports. It threw him in the air and, when he landed, he skidded across the asphalt. The brand new helmet remained on his head and contained only a few scratches and a dent on the front right side.

Leon Stevens, Todd’s grandfather and a retired railroad worker, had given his grandson permission to ride the scooter to a nearby bridge if he came straight home.

Only a short time had passed when Stevens received a phone call from his neighbor that Todd had been hit. He didn’t finish the conversation.

“I dropped the phone and left,” Stevens said.

An ambulance and the Warren County Sheriff’s Department had arrived when Stevens got there. He saw Todd on the ground, unconscious, but alive.

Stevens credits the helmet.

“He is a lucky person for surviving,” Stevens said.

Todd said the first thing he remembered after being hit was waking up at ParkView Regional Medical Center. He was released at 6:15 that night with no broken bones.

“I am thankful (my grandfather) got me the helmet because I probably would have been in heaven,” Todd said.

The driver of the truck that hit Todd was deemed not at fault by the Warren County Sheriff’s Department, and no charges were filed.

Todd said he has learned his lesson and wants to tell all his friends in Utica to wear helmets.

Stevens said he got the idea for the helmet while riding to visit relatives in Vidalia, La. Traveling on the Natchez Trace Parkway, he noticed many bicyclists with helmets. He knew then, he said, he needed one for his grandson’s visits.

“Todd is living proof these things work. I see a lot of kids without one on,” Stevens said.

In April 2001, more than 13,600 scooter-related accidents were reported in emergency rooms nationwide, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

That is an increase from May 2000 when emergency rooms treated 500 scooter-related accidents.