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Biker eager to ride again after crushing collision

WILSON -- Randy Miller has seen more than his share of life's ups and downs in his short 15 years, but he's never seen anything like the outpouring of kindness that has come his way since his recent bicycle accident.

The Wilson High School special-needs student -- who loves to ride bicycles -- has largely been confined to a wheelchair in recent weeks as a result of a serious Mother's Day crash.

He had a large white cast on his right leg removed last weekend and has been undergoing therapy twice a week for an injured left wrist. He had to finish his freshman year at home with a tutor.

The crash crushed his bike -- but he has since raised his spirits.

He now has two bikes, thanks to his school and community.

His reaction?

"I was like, 'Whoa,' " Randy said last week.

Randy and his cousin, Robert Hammond, 17, and a friend were riding their bikes northbound on the shoulder of Hulbert Road last month when 22-year-old Wilson resident Chad Beemer, traveling southbound on Hulbert Road in a sports utility vehicle, crossed the yellow line and struck Miller, according to police and family reports.

Beemer was issued tickets for several traffic violations.

Randy was airlifted by Mercy Flight to Women and Children's Hospital, where the staff treated him for a broken right leg and injured left wrist.

He returned to his grandparents' modest Roosevelt Beach home in a wheelchair.

"He's trying to do a little to help out around here, but he gets frustrated," said his grandmother, Mary Miller. "He misses doing some of the things he can't do yet. He's so active, that it's hard now."

Before Randy's cast came off June 15, it was covered with the signatures of well-wishers, which is no surprise to Charlie Jufer, Wilson High School vice principal and athletic director.

"He's a very, very well-liked student," Jufer said. "He's just a neat kid. He was the manager of the varsity boys' soccer team this past fall and they gave him a varsity jacket."

Randy's popularity among students and staff prompted the collection of more than $400 in just two days to replace his bicycle, Wilson High School Principal Daniel Johnson said.

When senior Brian Michel donated his gently-used, black Huffy Superia, Jufer took some of the donated funds to outfit the bike with new accessories, including a nameplate.

"The bike was in excellent condition," Jufer said, adding that he and school counselor Denise Phillips used the rest of the donations to purchase a new Philips MP3 player -- loaded with Randy's favorite tunes -- and new clothes to fit over the leg cast.

His friends presented him with the bike at a school ceremony earlier this month.

"The kids gave him a standing ovation when I gave my speech, Jufer said."

T.J. Baia, a Wilson Middle School teacher and the varsity soccer coach, said the response reflects well on the community.

"Randy is charming and good-hearted," Baia said. "He's had a lot of difficulties to overcome, but I think he can do it."

"Randy is a wonderful boy," added Phillips, the school counselor. "Anything that needs to be done, he's willing to help. The whole school loves and adores him.

"I visited him when he got home from the hospital and he never complained [about his injuries]," she said. "He took everything in stride."

Randy's grandmother said she and her husband, Arnold, have raised Randy since he was born and that he has a learning disability.

"He's had a few problems, but he's working on them," Mary Miller said. "He's a good student. I love him with all of my heart and I give him a lot of credit. He's always pitching in to help people."

Dan Keeton, owns a nearby cottage where Randy has worked during the past few years mowing the grass and doing odd jobs.

"We went out shopping the other day and when we got back, there was another bike here," Mary Miller recalled. "We found out later Dan left it for Randy."

"It's a 'trick' bike," Randy said, "and I want to build some ramps to do tricks with it."

He'll be wearing a new helmet, as the volunteer firefighters had to cut the straps to remove the old one at the accident scene, his grandmother said.

Firefighters bought the new helmet.

"And Randy tells kids now to always wear your helmet," his grandmother said. "That's what saved his life."

She also credits her oldest grandson, Robert Hammond, who was with Randy when he was involved in the accident and was able to contact the rest of the family for help.

Randy knows it will be a while before he can ride a bike again. For now, he's content he's shed the cast -- and can resume another favorite pursuit.

"I'm getting a little bored," he admitted, adding with a smile, "I want to go fishing. I'll be on crutches, but I can still get in a boat."


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