How long would he have to wait for help, and would it come in time?
That’s what James Impeciati wondered as he was lying in the dark early Tuesday morning on Vough Lane in the Slate Belt, suffering from what he would later learn were multiple broken bones.
That morning the 50-year-old Bangor man was knocked down by a deer as he was riding his 2016 Harley-Davidson motorcycle to work in Harmony, New Jersey, the same route he takes every work day starting at 4 a.m.
There’s farmland on one side of Vough Lane, trees and a few houses on the other side, and not a lot of traffic at 4:15 a.m.
That morning, it was just Impeciati. And the deer.
Impeciati said he was traveling east on a road between Route 611/North Delaware Drive and Riverton Road, when he saw an adult deer and a baby deer in the road. Initially, the adult went left and the younger deer went right.
“I’m always careful about the deer because they’re all over the place, even in the car,” he said.
But as Impeciati got closer, the adult deer turned around and hit Impeciati’s bike head-on.
The collision knocked Impeciati off his Harley, sending the bike into the grass and Impeciati sliding about 100 feet on the road, ending in the westbound lane.
It was quiet, it was pitch black and there was no one around.
Impeciati, who was wearing a full face helmet, started assessing the damage.
He had felt his right arm being hurt as he slid down the road; he said it felt like his arm was being ripped off.
The Slate Belt native used his teeth to take the glove off of his left hand, and got his helmet off. He was able to move his feet and legs, but then he tried to sit up.
“I felt something puncturing my lungs,” he said.
Impeciati couldn’t get to his bike, where his cellphone was in a bag. He yelled for help, but eventually stopped and lay in the dark, looking at the sky and waiting for someone to find him.
“It was a long time to think about a lot of stuff,” Impeciati said.
After about an hour, he saw headlights.
The driver, a New Jersey State Police trooper named Jay Whitehead, was also on his way to work that morning. Whitehead slowed down when he saw the hazard lights from the motorcycle on the side of the road, and initially didn’t see Impeciati.
Impeciati said he began waving his arm as Whitehead got closer.
Whitehead got out and dialed 911.
Impeciati said he was in and out of consciousness, and began shaking. Whitehead stayed and talked him, telling him to “hang in there” while they were waiting for the ambulance.
“I realty appreciate the man stopped to help me. Most people don’t stop,” Impeciati said. “If he wouldn’t have stopped, who knows what would have happened.”
Meanwhile, co-workers at Impeciati’s job at Stateline Fabricators were worried after he didn’t show up at his usual time. A few went out to look for him, and called his wife when they couldn’t find him.
By then Impeciati was being treated at St. Luke’s University Hospital in Fountain Hill for a broken shoulder blade, broken collarbone and three cracked ribs, plus cuts and bruises. The hospital called his wife.
“Thank God no one hit — or ran over! — my dad before Mr. Whitehead came to my father’s aid!” Sarah Impeciati Loren, Impeciati’s daughter, said in an email. “Things could have been so much worse.
“Dad definitely had someone looking out for him Tuesday morning, and we are all so grateful that Mr. Whitehead was on his way to work on that specific day and time. I don’t even want to imagine what may have happened if he had not found and stayed with my Dad until the ambulance came. He talked to my dad the whole time.”
It was Impeciati’s first crash since he started riding when he was a kid.
“Never had a broken bone in my life, this is all new to me,” he said, chuckling from his Bangor home Thursday afternoon.
The 30-year-old Loren had just left the Lehigh Valley on Saturday after a weeklong visit with her parents, and was back in North Carolina as she grappled with learning about the crash, her father’s injuries and how her mother was handling it all.
“I needed to do something. And if the only way I could help was via social media, then so be it,” Loren said.
Loren took to Facebook to find the man who helped her father. After posting in a Slate Belt group at noon on Tuesday, it only took a few hours before the trooper’s wife saw the post and the families were able to connect. Loren was so glad her parents were able to personally thank Whitehead for his help.
“I knew we’d find him — the power of social media is incredible, not to mention, everyone knows everything when you live in a small town! LOL,” Loren said. “It’s really hard for me, not being there, so helping them in this way made me feel a bit better.”
Impeciati was back home recuperating, his arm in a sling while he waits to see if his shoulder will need surgery.
The crash won’t keep Impeciati off his bikes, though.
“I’ll be back on as soon as I can,” he said, after the bones heal, of course. “Everything turned out OK, I’m still alive. It’s going to get better.”