Fourteen-year-old Howard Sharp was getting pretty confident on his ATV, until a bit too much speed on his way to Sandy Lake outside of Rankin Inlet led to a devastating crash.
“It all happened so fast,” remembers Howard, whose short-term memory is still suffering from the early-August accident.
“I was trying to slow down and then I don’t even know how the steering wheel turned.”
Before he knew it, he had crashed, his helmet flew off and he was rolling down the hill. A passerby spotted the incident, and emergency responders attended the scene before sending him on a medevac to Winnipeg.
Howard was conscious after the crash but in bad shape.
His mother, Pelagie Sharp, said it was shocking and frightening to see her own child in that situation. When he made it to the hospital, Howard had bleeding in his stomach, swelling in the back of his head from blood collecting between his skull and scalp, and a plethora of cuts and bruises.
“The neurologist told us that if he wasn’t wearing the helmet it would have been a completely different scene,” said Pelagie.
He spent five days in the Winnipeg hospital recovering and even got a visit from fire chief Mark Wyatt, who happened to be in the city at the time.
“That helmet probably saved your life,” said Wyatt, speaking to Howard as the two met up again at the Rankin Inlet fire hall recently.
“I’ve known him since he was this tall and I read about the accident and he was in the hospital. I figured I’d go see him, see how he’s doing.”
Wyatt said there have been six medevacs due to ATV accidents in Rankin Inlet this summer, and all of them have taken place outside of the hamlet’s limits.
“That’s where all the accidents happen,” said Wyatt about the road out of town. “That’s where people are going much faster.”
He wasn’t sure if people thought it wasn’t cool to wear a helmet, but he is sure they make a huge difference in the event of an accident.
“A severe head injury is going to cripple you for life,” said Wyatt, adding that many of the accidents this summer have had alcohol involved.
“Howard wasn’t drinking, fortunately, but we’ve been to a number of accidents this year where people could barely walk and they’re driving.”
Howard is still recovering and his headaches, as expected, have started. He was short on what to say, but he did have one piece of advice after his ordeal: wear a helmet.