Rowan’s Helmet saved her life


Rowan malmbergs bike after getting hit by a semi truck on July ninth

Tristan Smith, Copy editor



Rowan Malenberg is a typical freshman at Stillwater Area Highschool.  This past summer Rowan was riding her bike to a friend’s house.  As she road down 50th Avenue towards Lake Elmo Avenue little did she know that her life was about to change in an instant.  Rowan admits that she failed to look both ways as she started across the intersection.  She was supposed to stop but looked right and then started to look left as she got partway into the intersection.  That’s when she saw the truck.  Rowan was struck by a semi-tractor trailer traveling at about 55-59 miles per hour.  The truck and Rowan came to a stop in the ditch on the side of the road with Rowan trapped under the wheel of the truck.

“I woke up underneath the truck…the front left wheel my leg was under it. I think the wheel was up to here on me…” “I could just feel the whole weight of the truck on top of me. It hurt so bad like my bone was broken…”

The fact that she is alive today is part luck part miracle.  A straight frontal hit from a semi-truck going 20 miles per hour has greater than 90 percent survival rate.  The survival rate for a hit from a semi-truck going 65 miles per hour is only about 1 percent.

After she woke up under the truck Rowan remembers a man named Chris helping her and calling her parents.  Chris had seen the accident happen and was first on the scene.  Rowan remembers lying under the wheel waiting for the Ambulance and paramedics to arrive.

“I remember telling myself to just relax and control my breathing as it would not do me any good to panic”

It takes a lot of courage and a positive mindset to have that kind of a conversation with yourself when your stuck underneath a truck tire and you know you are seriously hurt and in pain.

Rowan does not remember much of the ambulance ride to the hospital.  She does remember waking up in her hospital room and asking the nurse what time it was.  The nurse replied that it was midnight.  A lot had happened since the accident that morning.   Rowan spent 3-4 hours in the trauma center where doctors worked to stabilize her followed by six hours of surgery.  Rowan sustained a broken pelvis, a broken femur and broken clavicle, a concussion and a double pneumothorax. In addition to all the serious injuries Rowan also had a lot of road rash from being dragged underneath the truck on the road.  Although she sustained a concussion, the extensive damage to her bike helmet showed that had she not been wearing a helmet she likely would not have survived the accident.

Rowan’s parents arrived at the hospital before the ambulance.  As she talked about her parents initial reaction to her condition she remembers telling her parents “hey I’m o.k. guys…just broken bones” Another example of courage and a positive attitude as she tried to comfort her parents from her hospital bed.  Rowan spent 6 days in the hospital before she was allowed to go home.

It’s been nearly six months since the accident and Rowan is walking well and looks like any other freshman at the school going to classes.  The fact that she has come so far so fast is a testament to her courage and positive attitude to overcome adversity.  Rowan spent 2.5 weeks in a wheel chair.  Two and half week seems like a lot but the first prediction was she would be in a wheel chair for up to 6 weeks.  Once out of the wheel chair she had to learn to walk with her crutches and slowly was able to begin putting weight on her broken leg.  In addition to the rehab  Rowan also talked about the severe pain from her leg that she had to endure which resulted in her only being able to sleep for about an hour before the pain woke her up.  Talking with Rowan the worst seems to be behind her.  She not a hundred percent back to normal but is optimistic that she will eventually  be back riding her bike soon.