DOWN BUT NOT OUT
By Dave Stave
Observer Staff Writer
LARGE BIRD STRIKES MOTORCYCLIST IN CHEST
It started out as a pleasant evening on a motorcycle.
Pastor Fred Laeger commonly gets together with other riders to go out to dinner on Wednesday evenings.
This time Laeger, minister at Harvester's Church of the Nazarene in Elgin, and his friends rode to Ukiah.
Coming back after dark along Highway 244 between Ukiah and Starkey Sept. 24, something strange happened to Laeger.
The minister explained that a large bird, probably a turkey, flew in his path, striking him in the chest. His was traveling between 55 and 60 mph on his motorcycle.
"It knocked me off my bike," Laeger said Thursday from his bed at St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, where he is recovering from injuries.
Struck the guardrail
Laeger landed on the roadway, rolled and his body struck the guardrail.
The minister, who leads an annual Christian motorcycle riders rally in Elgin in August, sustained multiple injuries in the accident.
"Every toe and bone in my right foot was broken," he said.
In addition, he broke his right arm and shoulder blade and five ribs on the right side.
Laeger praises the motorcycle riders who were riding ahead of him and noticed the headlight on his Kawasaki 800 motorcycle "go every which way."
"It was their quick-thinking that saved my life," he said.
The riders turned around to see what happened.
One of them covered Laeger with a blanket to prevent shock; another rode off quickly to get help.
Laeger was flown to St. Alphonsus, where he underwent six hours of surgery early the next morning.
Asked how he was doing this week, Laeger said, "I'm surviving.
"On a scale of one-to-10 (with 10 being the highest amount of pain), I'm a seven," he said.
Laeger said he's facing more surgery, and will be in the Boise hospital for at least another week
"God will take care of me," he said.
Mouse McKinney, associate pastor of the La Grande Church of the Nazarene, said, "As awful as it seems, he (Laeger) and his wife, Irene, are so beautifully trusting God and believing Romans 8:28, which says that Â‘all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose.' "
Ministry to motorcyclists
McKinney, who will be filling in for Laeger at the Elgin church's 11 a.m. Sunday services, said she's always been concerned about the injuries that can occur on a motorcycle.
"It can be pretty hard on you; you don't have much protection," she said
McKinney noted that Laeger is not a small man, and that could have helped him.
"His wife told me it was a good thing that he was a big one Â— he could have gone under that guard rail and really hurt himself."
Laeger, who loves to minister to motorcyclists through CHROME (Christ Healing Revival Outreach Motorcycle Evangelism), is not talking about when he'll be back on a motorcycle.
His bike sustained $1,700 in damage, and that can be repaired, he said.
Those who would like to send a card or note to Pastor Laeger can mail it to: Room 310, St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, 1055 N. Curtis Road, Boise, ID 83706.