August 2013. I was finishing up an incredibly frustrating week. Just the weekend before, I had ridden 772 miles in one day on my 2009 Ninja 650, going back to Nebraska for a job interview. On the way back, I noticed my tires were past the end of their life. That made for a white-knuckle ride the rest of the way home. That week, I took both wheels to Dan’s Cycle in Hesston, KS. I was living in Lehigh, working a co-op internship at Hillsboro Industries. They promised to have the new tires installed and ready for pick-up by Thursday. Thursday evening, they didn’t have them ready. I had to get back to Nebraska (a 4+ hr ride) on Friday night for my cousin’s wedding Saturday morning.
The Toyota OM617 original swap was down due to a driveshaft. Davez Offroad had promised to have my shaft back to me weeks before. Of course, just as his reputation says, he ghosted me and left me stranded without a truck. I lay a lot of the blame for my accident on him, as I would have just driven my pickup home. The homemade shaft I had in it was good enough to put around town and get to work, but not go down the highway.
Friday, when I got off work at 5pm, I limped the Yota down to Hesston to pick up my new tires. I high tailed it back to Lehigh to get them installed on the bike. I wasn’t able to leave till nearly 7pm! I also lay a lot of the blame for my accident on Dan’s Cycle. Had I had my stuff back from them on time, as promised, as well, I would have made it back in the daylight. This was a very rare exception where I rode in the dark. Riding in the dark and riding without a helmet were things I never did because of the risks involved.
August 16, 2013. I take off from Lehigh, KS, headed to David City, NE. I get to the Nebraska border before it gets dark. I’m tired. I’m stressed. I’m pissed at Dan’s and Davez. I’m anxious to get home. I’m past Dorchester, NE, and I’m beginning to get the chills. I’m wearing my green t-shirt from Frostbite 2013 and my leather jacket and gloves, but the wind is especially cold that night, and I’m beginning to shiver. Shivering fatigues you pretty quickly. I pull over in Seward to fuel up and get some hot coffee. I notice a cop that was behind me decided to park across the street and appeared to be waiting for me to leave. The gas station that I made the mistake of stopping at didn’t have a place for me to sit down and relax for a while. At this point, I’d have given anything to have a friend just come pick me up and take me the last 28 miles home. I was ready for about 12 hours of sleep.
I stood in the gas station, drinking some hot coffee to warm me up and wait for the cop to find something else to take his attention. It wasn’t long till he was gone, and I was back on my way home. Just north of Seward, there’s road work, and the blinding reflection of construction markers along both sides of the highway. I can’t see the road markers for intersections, and don’t realize I’m coming up to one (you’re not supposed to pass at intersections!) I come up to a truck who keeps slamming on the brakes – seems like he’s drunk. I decide I should get around him as quickly as possible before he causes me to wreck. I’m doing about 55, I pull into the left lane and bump her up to 80. The Ninja is quick, and I’m from 55 to 80 in the blink of an eye. As soon as I pass him, a lady shoots across my lane onto the gravel road of the intersection we’re at. I lean hard right, lock up my brakes and brace as I know a collision is almost certain. The dumbass lady looks out her window at me and STOPS… Had she just f*&#@ kept driving, I’d have missed her. I collided with the back of her car, only about 3 feet away from missing her completely. Of course, I’ve replayed this scenario in my mind thousands of times by now. Had nightmares about it for years. Hate thinking about it. Could have probably leaned harder right and either laid it down or caught enough traction to just miss her to the right. It was dark, though, I mean pitch black – it’s not like I was looking at things in broad daylight in slow motion.
My foot went thru her back window as I was trying to fly over the roof of her car. The glass went thru my leather boot, thru my foot, and anchored me to the car long enough to break my femur and tear my PCL before the glass broke and let me continue flying, about 50 ft. The Ninja, my dream bike, was in pieces (I WAS able to sell it, still running/driving, though). I laid there, unable to feel my right arm, right leg in throbbing pain. There was a major failure of both the law enforcement and insurance companies. I was left to pay for everything on my own. F8ck progressive insurance by the way.
I couldn’t feel/move my arm for a couple weeks because a nerve was pinched from swelling. Doctors didn’t know if I’d regain function. It took 6 months of grueling physical therapy to be able to walk normally again. In the end, I slipped on some icy stairs, tumbling from the main level of our duplex to the basement. The back of my foot was smashed into my butt. Up until then, I couldn’t hardly bend my leg backwards beyond 30°. That fall tore the scar tissue and I regained complete mobility in the leg instantly (but the fall hurt like a SOB).
Motorcycle wreck aside, I HAD to get the Toyota back up and going. Davez finally sent the driveshaft after I let him know I was nearly killed because of his laziness and neglect. Now in 2023, he has just finally gone out of business!
I often tell people that I believe “only the good die young” – so I must be a real asshole. I know I had to have a greater purpose in life, as t-boning a car on a bike doing between 60-80mph should have instantly killed me. It would take me a couple of years to realize what this purpose was. I went to Catholic school preK-12, and was very close with God before the accident. I’d regularly pray while riding – have conversation with God. Think. Meditate. This wasn’t some kind of “awakening where I found God”. Nothing like that at all. I knew it was guiding me to my destiny. But immediately after the wreck, and for at least a year after, I genuinely wished I’d just died in that wreck.
When you’re in a serious wreck and immobilized, you find out very quickly who your true friends are. No one came to see me at the hospital aside from my mom. It’s like that Hank Jr. song All in Alabama – “I learned a lot about my friends ‘cause when you’re shot down & out, you don’t get many calls”. When I got back to my house in college, my roommates couldn’t even be bothered to get off the couch and open the door for me as I stumbled inside with crutches. It was one of the major experiences that have made me wonder if I’m living in a simulation and it was all just a test to see if I can make it to the end. One of my best friends at the time, who rode bikes with me, basically responded to my message to him about the wreck with “Lol, quit being a little bitch. You’ll be back on a bike by the end of the year.” A true friend would have come to see me, support me. Instead, he downplayed the whole situation to the point I quit talking to him for half a year. I had also given up motorcycles for the rest of my life right then and there while I laid splattered on the side of the highway, but he kept trying to shove them down my throat and get me on another one. Our friendship essentially died that night, and I felt more alone in the world than ever before.
During my recovery phase, I got the shaft back from Davez, and got the Yota highway worthy for my next job, which was in the Sandhills of Nebraska. I’d end up putting 20k miles on the first OM617 swap driving home most weekends, as well as commuting to college. It took me a while to realize that God’s purpose of permanently removing me from bikes was to fix my attention on completing the first OM617 swap. Had I stayed with motorcycles, my plan for after graduation was to immediately order a new enduro Honda street legal dirt bike for commuting to work since they get ~70mpg. Having now driven the same roads for the past 8 years, I can undoubtedly that I would have been killed by now with the idiotic traffic in this area. Not only was my life spared, but being forced to complete the project also made me fall in love with the diesels like I never had before.
I wound up fixing the Ninja to the point it would ride and stop, and got it sold. I took that money and bought my first “deuce & a half” (M35A2). From then on, when people asked about my interest in bikes, I said “I’ll stick to 4 wheels or more” – meaning sometimes they’ll even have 6 or 10! I completely restored that deuce and daily drove it thru my last year of college. Between the OM617 swap and the Deuce, I was completely in love with old mechanical diesels. This would continue to grow until I would eventually begin Doomsday Diesel, manufacturing, selling, and installing OM617 swap kits, as well as reselling old military vehicles, and doing custom military vehicle builds, too.
Had I not been forced to complete the original Yota 617 swap because of the accident, I would have very likely ended up LS-swapping it, or selling it, or who knows. Being forced to jump over the hurdles that were preventing my swap from being mass-producible is what allowed Doomsday to be born. If you look back at it, it’s very easy to see that my motorcycle wreck was put in place by God to put me on the path of creating Doomsday Diesel, where I get to make a positive impact on the world by helping customers give old vehicles new life, improve fuel economy for the environment, recycle parts that would have been sent to the crusher, and simply bring joy into people’s lives. If you need a reason to believe in Him, I can help you find several. The good that comes out of evil always far outweighs the evil.
As I sit here tonight, looking back over just this past year, I’ve gotten my first patent, had my first co-authored book published, and have created more new parts in a single year than ever before. I would say I certainly had more to live for after that night in 2013, and I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years bring.