On December 15, 2016, Joey Wattigney’s life changed forever.
The 19-year-old was riding his motorcycle to work on Greenville Ave. in Allen just after 6 a.m. when a Ford F-150 truck slammed into him.
“It hit me sideways,” Joey said. “My head hit the ground before my body.”
Joey was thrown from his Harley and when firefighters arrived, they found his right leg a mangled mess.
“It was definitely one of the most heinous leg injuries I have ever seen in my career,” said Allen Fire Capt. Matt Madding.
Paramedics rushed Joey to the hospital, saving his life – again.
Everyone credits the helmet he was wearing as the first lifesaver.
“He wore his helmet every time he rode,” said mom Lisa Valerde. “I’m so thankful he was good and kept his helmet on.”
“Totally un-survivable if he hadn’t worn his helmet,” Capt. Madding said. “Tough kid. Brave kid.”
Joey still keeps his scratched-up helmet close by, a rough reminder of the day his life changed.
Fourteen days after his accident, doctors amputated Joey’s right leg.
He spent a month in the hospital, re-learning how to walk.
But six months after the accident, Joey is doing much more than taking small steps.
He just returned from a nine-day wakeboarding trip in North Carolina with a group of other amputees.
And someday, he plans to get back on a motorcycle – always, with his helmet on.
Texas has more than 400,000 registered motorcycles on the road.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, a motorcyclist is 29 times more likely to be killed in a crash.