Cyclists Killed While Wearing Helmets

On Internet forums, I have seen plenty of postings that said, “A bike helmet saved my life!”

That is just anecdotal evidence, of course. The poster doesn't really know that, but he had a big scare, and his helmet broke, so he figured that it saved his noggin.

But anecdotal evidence, of course, can only show that something is not impossible. It does not mean that it is probable, or even that the conclusion drawn from the incident is correct. (For example, my great-grandfather smoked all his adult life, and lived to be 87 — that doesn't prove that smoking is harmless.) A polystyrene cycle helmet without a hard shell is designed to take a single direct impact at no more than 20 km/h. It is not magic.

Since many people find anecdotes more convincing than math and statistics (even though this is the only really sound way to make decisions on such a matter), I have searched the Web to provide a collection of links to pages about cyclists who died with their helmets on.

The starting point was a Google search. I searched for the words “cyclist” and “killed”, and the phrase “was wearing a helmet.” I got over 11,000 hits. This does not mean that there were 11,000 deaths of cyclists with helmets. Cycling is very safe, and it would take several years for this many deaths to occur in the English-speaking countries where the web pages were found. Stories about the same person were found in several places. Many stories were about motorcyclists. Sometimes there would be the phrase, “neither was wearing a helmet.” But by perusing the first 300 hits, I produced the first 57 entries in this list. Other accounts were sent to me by persons interested in this topic. The others come from Google news alerts unless otherwise noted.

Note that not all of these people were blameless. Some were riding unsafely and/or illegally. Some suffered injuries that were not to the head, or other injuries in addition to head injuries. But in all cases, bicycle helmets did not save their lives.

You may have to scroll down a lot on some of these pages to find the relevant item.

  1. Arjun Khanna
  2. Dino J. Tortu
  3. Garrett Paul Lemire
  4. Haruko Fujinawa
  5. Joe Hailey
  6. Nicole Reinhart
  7. James F. Payne
  8. Garret Patrick Wonders
  9. John Carney
  10. Kevin O'Brien
  11. A young cyclist in the Ottawa region
  12. Liz Padilla
  13. Samuel Adams Love
  14. Darrel McDaniel
  15. Sheryl McDaniel
  16. Aaron Bieberitz
  17. Malcolm Roberts
  18. Robert Edward Hebeler
  19. James Holcomb
  20. Joseph E. Brown
  21. Michael Brady
  22. Robert Beebe
  23. Nathan Geminiano
  24. Khake Toure
  25. Jessica Bullen
  26. Gay Ann Simmons-Posey
  27. Bohdan Kulakowski
  28. Jason Kramer
  29. Robert Edward Hebeler
  30. Robert Irving Burton Jr.
  31. Douglas Edward Lowe
  32. Matt Wittig
  33. Jacek Wierzbicki
  34. Debra Goldsmith
  35. Michael R. Rabe
  36. David Pumphrey
  37. Jerome Segal
  38. Rachel Speight
  39. Dave Holmes
  40. Unnamed cyclist in Bourbon County, Kentucky
  41. A 57 year old resident of Virgina (name and link removed at the family's request; contact me if you really want it).
  42. Stephen Kennedy
  43. An unnamed 29-year-old Marine captain
  44. Jason Caleb Wiley
  45. Margaret Alene Sanders
  46. Allan Moir
  47. Armen Fallian
  48. Larry Schwartz
  49. A 49 year old resident of California (name and link removed at the family's request; contact me if you really want it.).
  50. Michelle Mazzei
  51. An unnamed tourist from Victoria, Australia
  52. Jake Boysel
  53. Eric Kautzky
  54. Orlando Suarez
  55. Hubert van Tol
  56. Nate
  57. An unnamed cyclist.
  58. An unnamed cyclist known to an orthopedic doctor (Not the person pictured.)
  59. Walter Anderson
  60. James Holcomb
  61. Kirk Ullrich
  62. Joe Jabaily
  63. Thomas Harland. (Thanks to Roger Geffen of the UK Cyclists Touring Club for this link.)
  64. Maurice Broadbent. (Thanks to Roger Geffen.)
  65. Dave Horrocks. (Thanks to Roger Geffen.)
  66. Wayne Wilkes. (Thanks to Roger Geffen.)
  67. Beth Kobeszka. (Thanks to Avery Burdett for this link.)
  68. Thomas Kinnebrew. (Thanks to Avery Burdett for this link.)
  69. Emma Foa. (Thanks to Roger Geffen for this link.)
  70. Victoria Buchanan. (Thanks to Roger Geffen for this link.)
  71. Kate Charles. (Thanks to Charlie Lloyd for this link.)
  72. Peter Kaczor
  73. Mathi Kahn-Polzo
  74. Fred Knoodle (According to a friend's comment lower down on the page, the cyclist was wearing a helmet.)
  75. Unnamed East York cyclist.
  76. Jimmy Nisser
  77. Shahram Moghadamnia
  78. Alexander Toulouse
  79. Unnamed man from Tacoma, Washington.
  80. Gregg Bednorski
  81. Michael A. McCutcheon
  82. Sarah Chapman
  83. Jim Nisser
  84. Virginia Marie Heuer-Bowar
  85. Wayne Tobias
  86. Rito Anthony Mungioli
  87. Unnamed cyclist in Philomath, Oregon
  88. Cory Peck
  89. Christopher Edward Smeglin
  90. Edward Paul Bomber
  91. Jan Borgerhoff
  92. Unnamed man from Mississauga, Ontario.
  93. Alec Waggoner
  94. David Sjuggerud
  95. Scott Bailey
  96. Gerald Hickman
  97. Dan Ring
  98. Brett Robert Jarolimek
  99. Alfred Poggiogalle
  100. Merywn L. Russell Jr.
  101. Barbara Ann Gill
  102. Eric Ross
  103. James B. Meadow
  104. David Edward John Hall
  105. Austen Miller
  106. Myles Davis Jr.
  107. Jan D. Baasch
  108. Susan Baker
  109. Gareth Rhys-Evans
  110. Daniel Hersh
  111. Donald Vanderbrook
  112. Jim Lee Chu
  113. Thomas D. Bettger
  114. Dennis Dumm
  115. Drake G. Okusako
  116. Daniel L. Peterson
  117. Neil Russell Murphy
  118. Janice Plewes
  119. Kevin Palvis
  120. Bob Frederick
  121. Alton Saceaux
  122. James McClurkan
  123. Allen J. Belonger
  124. Casey Witteman
  125. Hugo Gonzalez
  126. Daryl David Benefiel
  127. Veronica Ramirez
  128. Donald Myers
  129. Ralph Polzin
  130. John R. Yates
  131. Codi N. Alexander
  132. Harold Hartzell
  133. Sarah Hayward (Thanks to Roger Geffen.)
  134. John W. Daugherty
  135. Warren Clarke
  136. Patrick Sawyer
  137. Lisa Ann Roden
  138. Robert Anderson
  139. Jerome Featherman
  140. Gregory Jennings
  141. Larissa Jean Castilleja
  142. Orren Watkins
  143. Casey E. Najera
  144. Kit Yang Charlene Pun
  145. Gordon Patterson
  146. Virginia Heuer
  147. Mary Yonkers
  148. Unnamed cyclist from Wodonga, Australia
  149. Jens Richardon
  150. Daniel Oates
  151. Frank Stafford Campbell
  152. Mike Ortega
  153. Walter Freeman
  154. Nicholas Vela Mortley
  155. Donna Singer
  156. Donald Murphy
  157. Kevin Pavlis
  158. Ty-Ree Partridge
  159. Codi Nicole Alexander
  160. Derek O'Leary
  161. Roy Carl Hall
  162. James Rogers
  163. Morlyn Lokken
  164. Bohdan Kulakowski
  165. Karen Narveson
  166. William Alexander Robinson
  167. William Foltz
  168. Faith Dremmer
  169. Cornelius Franciscus Maria Kees
  170. Chas Brubaker
  171. Wayne Scharenbroch
  172. Drake K. Okusako
  173. William Corliss
  174. Michael Oxley
  175. Douglas William Cater
  176. Matthew Steven King
  177. Kevin Underhill
  178. 36-year-old Ontario cyclist
  179. Shane Melkonian
  180. Alison Kellagher
  181. Susan Gerred
  182. Don Parker
  183. Ruben Lemus
  184. Charlie Pink
  185. William Flint II
  186. Robert R. Schwinn
  187. Joseph Polio
  188. Russell Garrett
  189. Cynthia "Cindy" Whitney
  190. Jan Lipson
  191. A 66-year-old cyclist from Markham, Ontario
  192. Former Florida Governor LeRoy "Roy" Collins Jr.
  193. Stephen Briggs
  194. Susan M. DeSotel
  195. Abel Chouinard
  196. A 53 year-old male cyclist in Ottawa, Ontario
  197. Patricia A. Lambie
  198. Gary Livingstone (Thanks to Roger Geffen.)
  199. Tanya Van Der Loo (Thanks to Roger Geffen.)
  200. Joseph Telford
  201. Ganesan Selvaraj
  202. Kevin Rogers
  203. Michelle Kazlausky
  204. Debra Miller
  205. Kanako Miura
  206. Unknown, Brooklyn, NY
  207. Unknown, Seattle, WA
  208. Liam Crowley
  209. Robert Larson
  210. David Hauer
  211. Neil Dunmire
  212. George Wimberley
  213. Unknown, Montreal, QC
  214. Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
  215. Unknown, Hamilton, ON
  216. Iris H. Stagner
  217. Ronald Richardson
  218. Michael Vega. (“Not even a bike helmet could save 25-year-old Michael Ray Vega.”)
  219. Unknown, Rancho Cucamonga, CA
  220. Daniel Harris. (Thanks to Roger Geffen.)
  221. Jason Price. (Thanks to Roger Geffen.)
  222. Tom Barrett. (Thanks to Roger Geffen.)
  223. Gary Brierley. (Thanks to Roger Geffen.)
  224. Daniel Pace. This was from a simple fall off a bike. (Thanks to Roger Geffen.)
  225. Steven Morris. (Thanks to Roger Geffen.)
  226. Ganesan Selvaraj. (Thanks to Roger Geffen.)
  227. Patrick Ytsma
  228. John Akers
  229. Michael Steffey
  230. David Hassler
  231. John Baluh
  232. Cody Johnson
  233. Andrew Quin Pray
  234. Tom Samson
  235. Unnamed 14 year old girl.
  236. Christopher Weigl
  237. Calvin Washingon
  238. Jame McKeithen
  239. Scott Crawford
  240. Unnamed Australian cyclist.
  241. Maria Micklethwaite
  242. Christian Raymond Brown
  243. Brennan Lee Sharp
  244. Jeffrey Fields
  245. Timothy Grant
  246. Mervyn Watson
  247. Unnamed 80 year old Ontario man.
  248. Tom Van Hoof
  249. Dale Tusen
  250. Michael Steffey
  251. John Brendan Primm
  252. Mike Wang
  253. Darrell Smith
  254. David Lingwood
  255. Ford Neil McGrath
  256. Debra H. Deem
  257. Henry Vosbein
  258. Braydon Nielsen
  259. Dean Davis
  260. Don Lippens
  261. Martha K. Shaw
  262. Unnamed 16-year-old male
  263. Joy Covey
  264. Craig Buchi
  265. Emily Gagnon
  266. Benjamin John Homan
  267. Christian Brown
  268. Victor Haskell
  269. Adam Bennett
  270. Benjamin Holman
  271. Joshua Alper
  272. Matthew Fitzgerald
  273. James Fogelberg
  274. Unidentified male, Round Rock, Texas
  275. Ernesto Wiedenbrug
  276. Unidentified man, Mudgee, Australia
  277. Marcus Nails
  278. George Fairley
  279. Kathryn Leah Rickson
  280. David Parris
  281. Iain Scoon
  282. Neil Kelty
  283. Unidentified female Montréal cyclist
  284. Mathilde Blais
  285. Unidentified Vancouver BC man
  286. Verter Ginestra
  287. Abdelkhalak Lahyani
  288. John Halsey Fusselman
  289. Janet Martinez
  290. Wendee Hockney
  291. James Moody
  292. Dick Stevenson
  293. Charles Beard
  294. David Ryan
  295. Timothy Jenks
  296. Wayne Warner Harwood
  297. Unidentified Hillcrest New Zealand female
  298. Unidentifed Alberta Canada male
  299. John R. Potter
  300. Jeffery Dusenbury
  301. Austin T. Bringenberg
  302. Ellen Dittebrandt
  303. Sian Tiong Lim (named here.)
  304. Arthur Joseff Teitsort-Birog
  305. Richard Klapman
  306. Michael Linden
  307. Graeme Loader (A helmet was found near the scene).
  308. Jill Byelich
  309. Rhonda Thompson
  310. Unidentified Colorado female
  311. Phillip A. Bishop
  312. Johanna Dean
  313. Kerry Lee Kunsman
  314. Kurt Wehner (In the comment section, an eyewitness confirms that the cyclist was wearing a helmet.)
  315. Dale Alexander
  316. Rodney VanDyke
  317. Unnamed Cupertino California male
  318. John Morland
  319. Kris Jarvis

Ride safely. And remember that severe bike accidents are quite rare, and bike deaths are even rarer. In Canada, an average of 74 people die in cycling accidents, an average of about 2 per million per year. To put that in context, there are 392 deaths annually for pedestrians, 116 from falling out of bed, 307 from falling on stairs, and 2650 from falls of all kinds. [source: Statistics Canada's reports on external causes of morbidity and mortality, 2000--2011].)