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Tour bus company settles collision suit

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A former triathlete was paralyzed when one of its vehicles hit his bicycle

By Gary T. Kubota

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Mar 04, 2010

A tour bus company has agreed to resolve a lawsuit stemming from a bicycle accident that resulted in a triathlete becoming a paraplegic.

John Henderson, 35, participated in several Ironman Triathlon World Championships in Kona before being struck from behind while riding on a paved shoulder along Kamehameha Highway from Haleiwa to Wahiawa on May 2, 2009.

Henderson was struck by the bus and thrown 90 feet, causing 28 injuries, including multiple pelvic fractures, eight fractured ribs, multiple vertebrae fractures, spinal cord injury, a tear in the spleen and lacerated liver.

Henderson filed a lawsuit against Travel Plaza Transportation LLC on May 13.

Henderson's attorney, Richard Fried, said he is unable to discuss certain details of the settlement.

But Fried said Henderson's medical bills exceed $700,000 and his doctor estimated that his future medical care will be several hundred thousand dollars a year for the rest of his life.

Paralyzed bicyclist announces settlement with bus company

Tour bus company

Bicyclist says no amount of money could possibly replace what he lost when he was hit by a tour bus.

At a news conference yesterday, Henderson said he still has pain.

But he said he was "very much satisfied" with the resolution of the lawsuit.

He said he wanted to ensure that his medical bills in the future would be covered to protect his financial security and that of his family and girlfriend, Laurel Dudley.

"It's been a very tough road," Henderson said. "While it's been bumpy, it's starting to smooth out. ... Will I be the same person that I was? No, absolutely not. ... Life takes another road, and I will redefine myself. ... I'm learning new ways to make myself happy."

Henderson said he was hospitalized for more than three months and has been returning to activities he enjoys, including conducting stationary bicycle "spinning classes" at the Honolulu Club.

Henderson said he's been able to move himself from his wheelchair to exercise equipment to lift weights. He said he is able to swim 800 to 1,000 yards freestyle using a specially designed wetsuit that floats his legs.

He said he's been able to lift his legs a little and stand with a walker.

"I've always tried to approach this positively," he said. "I've been getting stronger and stronger."

In January, he returned to work as a surgical representative in the operating room, consulting with doctors on surgical procedures.

"Work has been an amazing outlet for me," he said.

Henderson said he has a responsibility to create public awareness about street safety and promote the need for drivers to share the road.

He said he is in favor of a bill in the state Legislature that would make it illegal for a vehicle to pass within three feet of a cyclist, and of adding information about the rights of bicyclists to the Hawaii driver's license test.

"I'm just asking everybody, 'If you're going to pass a cyclist, treat them as you would another vehicle,'" he said. "Everybody needs to watch out for everybody else."