A Durango woman who was struck by a pickup truck while riding her motorcycle on East Eighth Avenue is recovering after losing her lower left leg.
Jeanette Wages, 70, is dealing with severe pain from the amputation and multiple surgeries, said Abbi Munn, a friend and co-worker. In addition to a shattered left leg, Wages suffered a head injury, dislocated shoulder, and a broken hand and wrist, Munn said.
The crash occurred about 12:35 p.m. July 23 in the 200 block of East Eighth Avenue. Wages was driving her Harley-Davidson motorcycle south when a gray Ford F150 heading the opposite direction turned left, failing to yield to the motorcycle, according to Durango police.
The driver of the pickup fled the scene but later turned herself in, police said. The driver was identified as Brittany Dee, 24.
Wages was flown to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Lakewood, where she remains. She is expected to be moved as soon as next week to a rehabilitation center in Denver, where she is expected to remain for another six weeks. She will then have another surgery on her femur where the amputation occurred, Munn said.
“And then it’s just adapting to this new life,” Munn said. She is expected to be fitted with a prosthetic.
According to an arrest affidavit, Dee was traveling north on East Eighth Avenue when she attempted to turn left into the parking lot of the former Macho’s restaurant. She told police she pulled into the “middle lane” to turn left, but cars behind her began to honk. There is no middle turn lane on that section of road; it is a four-lane road with two northbound lanes and two southbound lanes.
“Brittany Dee told me she started to make the left turn and didn’t see the motorcycle coming from the opposite direction,” according to an arrest affidavit filed in District Court by Durango Police Department Officer Dan Kellermeyer.
Witnesses said a male passenger got out of the pickup to check on the motorcyclist. He then got back into the truck and the vehicle drove away from the scene, according to the affidavit.
Witnesses used their cellphones to take photos of the vehicle, which police used to help identify the owner and the driver. Police then called the owner, who identified himself as the passenger in the truck. The man then passed the phone to his girlfriend, Dee, who confirmed she was driving at the time of the crash, according to the affidavit.
Dee told police she “freaked out” after the crash and left the scene. She drove nearly 100 miles to Aneth, Utah.
“When I asked why she never called the police, Brittany Dee was unable to provide any other reasoning other than she ‘freaked out,’” Kellermeyer wrote in his report.
Dee agreed to return to Durango and turn herself in on suspicion of failure to remain at the scene of a crash involving serious bodily injury and failure to yield the right of way. She has been released on $10,000 bail.
Wages, a real estate broker, began working for the Wells Group in 1997. She also works with her daughter, Morgan Kimsey.
Munn, owner and broker at the Wells Group, has been speaking with Kimsey on a daily basis. Munn said Wages “can’t believe the outpouring of support and love” she has received from the Durango community.
A GoFundMe page titled “Support for Jeanette’s Road to Recovery” had raised $46,145 of its $100,000 goal as of Wednesday afternoon.
The GoFundMe page says Wages was the first leader of the Ladies of Harley motorcycle group, which is an extension of the H.O.G. Chapter that she led for 11 years.
“She’s a devoted mother and grandmother; an accomplished real estate agent at The Wells Group Real Estate Brokerage, known for her determination and passion; a cherished friend; and above all a badass Harley chick,” the page says.
Munn said Wages knew the risks of motorcycle riding, but at the same time she was an experienced rider, took safety precautions, and she always rode with a helmet and heavy-duty biking boots.
“It brought her so much joy, and she has met so many friends and has so many stories to tell about her adventures on her bike,” Munn said.
Trevor Bird, owner of Durango Harley-Davidson, said Wages inspired other women who pondered riding motorcycles. She also helped with the annual Harley-Davidson Toy Run, in which motorcyclists collect toys and deliver them to local children before Christmas.
“I know she found a lot of joy and a lot of freedom and independence in riding her bike,” Bird said. “She does have a long road ahead of her.”
Motorcyclists, especially Harley-Davidson riders, try to make it a point to ride in groups, he said. Seeing the community come together to help Wages and let her know she is not alone has been heartening, he said.
“If she has a desire to keep riding … we want to be there to help support her,” Bird said.