'We were really lucky,' says motorcycle crash victim
"I'm lucky that I'm alive today, seriously. I have a hard time not getting emotional talking about it," says Alain Belanger.
Belanger was injured on Saturday while travelling in a 10-motorcycle formation that was heading to CFB Gagetown to serve as a wedding escort.
Belanger, and the groom, Frank Bouchard, were in the fifth and sixth positions of the "staggered-packet" bike formation when a Ford station wagon drifted across the centre line on Lincoln Road near Oromocto, N.B., and plowed into the motorcycles.
Belanger and Bouchard were the worst injured in the crash that sent four of the motorcyclists to Fredericton's Dr. Everett Chalmers Hospital.
Groom hit first
"I was sure my friend was dead — Frank there — because of the way it happened," Belanger told CBC News from the hospital. "It happened so fast but I saw his bike basically go to pieces and he was still on it — and the sound of the impact."
The driver of the car initially nicked the handlebars of one bike before colliding with the bikers in the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth positions.
The motorcyclist in the 10th position also went down when an unrelated car that had fallen in between the ninth and 10th bikes suddenly braked to try to avoid the accident. The rider chose to lay her bike down and slide into the rear of the vehicle rather than risk a worse collision.
Belanger said when he was hit he didn't lose consciousness.
"I remember rolling into the ditch," he said. "I tried to get up and I was yelling for him [Bouchard] right away and I wanted to get to him but then I realized I couldn't go anywhere. My arm was broken and my leg was broken."
Belanger's leg was broken in four spots below the knee, with an open fracture that had turned his foot toward his knee.
The motorcyclists were all members of a Fredericton-area club known as the Passchendaele Unit, which is part of the Canadian Army Veteran Motorcycle Units association.
Motorcyclists began administering first aid
All of the riders, who were in their 30s and 40s, were either veterans or serving soldiers, Belanger said, and their first aid training kicked in.
The other motorcyclists began treating Bouchard and himself, Belanger said.
Belanger, Bouchard and another rider are still in the hospital in stable condition.
'I can't wait for next spring, so I can ride again'—Alain Belanger, crash victim
The injuries include broken legs, broken arms, broken noses, severed nerves, concussions, whiplash and road rash.
"We were really lucky," he said.
Belanger said he has served overseas four times, but has never broken a bone before.
And he says the crash won't stop him from riding.
"Something like that happens, you know, you've got to carry on, right," Belanger said. "You can't focus on that all the time. Can't wait; now I know I won't be riding this year, but I can't wait for next spring, so I can ride again."
Belanger said he had made a pact with another rider involved in the crash that they will both get back on their bikes and that when they do they will take that first ride together.
Police have not yet laid any charges in the accident and the investigation is continuing.
The driver of the car had a small child aboard. Neither was injured.
Police have said that inattentive driving due to driver distraction was likely a contributing factor in the crash.