Injured Shamokin Guardsman comes out of hospital to greet benefit riders
DANVILLE - "Cory Strong."
The phrase has been used to describe Cory Thompson, a Pennsylvania Army National Guardsman from Shamokin who has endured eight major surgeries since he was critically injured July 13 in a motorcycle accident on Route 61 at Weigh Scales.
The two simple but meaningful words repeated by Thompson's family and friends could not have been illustrated more clearly Saturday afternoon when Thompson slowly waved to approximately 200 motorcyclists who traveled by the wheelchair-bound war veteran in the parking lot of Geisinger HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital.
The motorcyclists revved their engines in unison before riding back past Thompson, his mother, Andrea Rollman, sisters Ciana Rollman and Kiera Zarick, and brother, Quinn Rollman. The emotional scene was the high point of a benefit run that started near the scene of Thompson's accident and ended at the RCA Grounds in Ranshaw, where an "after party" was held to raise funds to defray his medical costs.
"I can't stop crying," his mother said as motorcyclists drove by. "It's a miracle he's here."
Andrea said her son still has a long road to recovery, which will involve more surgeries, including one to remove the pins from a hip broken in the accident. His condition, she said, is vastly different compared to the days following the accident, when at one point doctors told her that her son's liver was badly damaged, he had internal bleeding and that there was "nothing they could do."
Adamant about charges
Thompson was operating a Harley-Davidson in the northbound left lane of Route 61 a few miles north of Shamokin when the accident occurred. He had slowed as he approached the intersection with Bridge Street, the entrance to The Wayside Inn, believed to be his destination.
Ralpho Township Patrolman Stephen Spade said at the time Thompson was interacting with a driver in the right lane who had also slowed, when a Jeep Cherokee rammed the motorcycle from behind. Thompson had passed the Jeep moments before.
Thompson laid in the middle of the southbound lanes. Initial reports were that he was not breathing. People rushed from the restaurant to his aid.
The Jeep was driven by a 17-year-old Shamokin girl and there were two passengers, both 17-year-old girls from Coal Township. Neither they nor the driver were injured. Ralpho Township police withheld the names of the driver and occupants following department policy on the identification of minors.
The driver has not been charged to date.
Thompson is adamant the investigation should lead to charges against the driver.
PennDOT is studying the possibility of installing a two-way left turn lane on Route 61 near Wayside Inn, which has been the scene of 10 crashes in the past five years, one of them a fatality.
He also insists that he be released from the hospital as soon as possible so he can return home. He anticipates this to happen in early September.
"I just want to go home," he said.
"I can't believe how fast he is healing," his mother said. "He is so disappointed that he can't be riding with them."
On Saturday, members of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, Pa. Chapter 22-1, donated $500.
Several additional fundraisers and events have been announced to help Thompson.
Coal City Revitalization, FC Sounds and Sinister Kings Motorcycle Club will use Claude Kehler Community Park for a benefit event from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sept. 27.
Also, an online fundraising effort for medical bills has begun in Thompson's name at youcaring.com, a free online fundraising site. The page shows a picture of Thompson in uniform and with the title, "Help Our Hometown Hero Fight His Battle."