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Motorcycling minister has close encounter of the deer kind

By Steve Huffman
shuffman@salisburypost.com
The Rev. Mike Motley was riding his motorcycle home the night of March 31 and had just crested a hill less than a mile from his residence.
Motley, 48, is the minister of Trading Ford Baptist Church on Long Ferry Road. He lives on Lee Wilson Road in Davidson County.
As Motley neared his house and topped that hill, he saw a deer cross the road in front of him, moving from Motley’s left to his right. He slowed the bike to about 30 mph.
“I remember thinking, ‘Whew, that was close,’ ” Motley said.
He thought that a moment too soon.
Before Motley had a chance to do much else, his motorcycle collided with a second deer that he never saw approaching. It was following the first deer.
The collision caused Motley to lose control of his motorcycle, the Suzuki Bandit going in one direction and its rider in the other.
“I’d have been better off if I’d stayed with the motorcycle,” Motley recalled. “I did a 30-mph belly flop on an asphalt road.”
He was wearing a leather jacket he’d owned for 20 years. The jacket was destroyed, but it absorbed much of the brunt of his crash.
“It did what it was supposed to do,” Motley said. “It just left me with a basic road rash.”
Motley took a moment to compose himself, then stood and walked to his motorcycle, which was still running. After turning the motorcycle off, Motley reached into his pocket and retrieved his cell phone.
He called his wife, Sandy. The two had eaten dinner together at a restaurant just minutes prior to the crash and she was following him a few miles back.
“Where are you?” Motley asked when his wife answered.
“I just turned onto Lee Wilson Road,” she replied. “Where are you?”
“I’m lying in Lee Wilson Road,” Motley answered.
Sandy is a nurse and hustled to the scene where she inspected her husband’s injuries. She administered basic first aid and suggested a trip to Lexington Memorial Hospital, but her husband, being the typical male he is, declined.
No, he insisted, I’ll be fine.
They called friends, Chad and Angie Spoon, who live nearby. The Spoons came and Chad rode the motorcycle home for Motley.
The next morning, Motley realized he wasn’t quite as well off as he’d assumed the night before.
“My abdomen was exceptionally sore,” Motley said. “I thought I’d cracked a rib or two.”
He was so sore it took him an hour to make it from his house to a seat in the family van. Sandy drove him to the Lexington hospital.
There, a CT scan revealed that Motley suffered a ruptured spleen. He said ruptures of the spleen are graded by doctors on a scale of one to five, with five being the worst.
“Mine was a three-plus,” Motley said.
He said that during the night he’d lost 20 percent of his blood through internal bleeding, and doctors showed him results of his CT scan that indicated where the lost blood was pooling.
They told him he needed to go immediately to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem to have his spleen removed. An ambulance from Baptist that was at the Lexington hospital transported him.
But a miraculous thing happened en route to Winston-Salem. Motley’s spleen quit bleeding.
He said a doctor at Baptist gave him some encouraging news.
“Someone who knows more than I do wants you to keep your spleen,” Motley said, and paused.
“He was referring to the Lord.”
Motley noted that the spleen helps fight off infections and said plenty of people don’t have theirs. “But I’m better off having it,” he quickly added.
Motley said his full recovery will take several months, but not a day passes that he doesn’t pause to give thanks that his injuries weren’t more severe than they were.
“I’m a believer in Jesus Christ,” Motley said. “My life is in his hands. If he was through with me, I’d be with him in heaven.
“The fact that I’m here, that shows he’s got more for me to do.”
Motley has been minister at Trading Ford Baptist for 10 years. The church is one of Rowan County’s fastest-growing, drawing about 350 people on a typical Sunday. A new sanctuary was completed just last year.
“The Lord has been good to us,” Motley said. “We’re very grateful.”
He and Sandy have two sons, Ben, 25, who was recently discharged from the Marines after serving two tours of duty in Iraq, and Andrew, 20, who is hoping to be accepted to N.C. Highway Patrol school.
Motley keeps an old gold Seiko watch that he’s owned for years to remind him of the blow he took the night of his accident. The watch is forever stopped at 9:15 p.m., evidence of the severity of the crash.
“I think the impact must have done it in,” Motley said.
Despite the crash, he plans to continue riding motorcycles. Motley started riding when he was just 19 and has over the years owned quite a few motorcycles.
The Bandit on which he crashed is a big 1,200 cc model that he just purchased in February. Motley also kept his previous motorcycle, a Suzuki 1,100 that has 67,000 miles showing on its odometer.
“I’ve ridden thousands and thousands and thousands of miles,” he said. “I’m more wary now, especially when I’m riding through highly populated deer areas.”
But Motley then pauses to remind listeners the world doesn’t come with money-back guarantees, and protecting oneself from all the potential harm out there is impossible.
“I want to be careful, but you can’t live life trying to protect yourself from every accident,” he said.
Motley said his wife understands. “She realizes it was an accident,” he said of the crash.
Keith Mason is associate pastor at Trading Ford. He said members of the church’s congregation pitched in to help during Motley’s absence, and the incident in some ways brought members closer.
“I just don’t think God was finished with him,” Mason said.
Had someone not been looking out for the pastor, Mason said, the end result could have been far different.
“He got beat up,” Mason said. “That deer did a number on him.”

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