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The 5 Most Brutal Injuries in Professional Motocross

Posted on January 24, 2014 by Samantha Stainsburry
Motocross stunts can be amazing, but they also come with a great deal of risk.

Motocross stunts can be amazing, but they also come with a great deal of risk.

Through its evolution, motocross has become one of the most popular motorsports in the world. Though the sport originated as time trial races, sometimes double-billed with monster truck rallies, over the last few decades motocross has become a showcase of jaw-dropping Evel Knievel-esque stunts that have stolen the spotlight from other extreme sports, like BMX and skateboarding, at events like ESPN’s X-Games.

As with other extreme sports, failing big tricks sometimes comes with serious injuries. Here is a list of pro riders who should have kept a motorcycle accident lawyer on a permanent retainer:

Bruce Cook’s Impacted Spine

On January 3, 2014, Canadian rider Bruce Cook was attempting a never-before-seen ramp-to-ramp double front flip at a Nitro Circus Live event at the Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Cook under rotated the flip, fell from his bike and crashed into the ramp, seriously injuring his spine. Following a three-hour surgery, Cook announced on social media that he had suffered significant spinal cord damage and lost sensation and movement below his belly button.  It remains to be seen how fully he will be able to recover.

Larry Linkogle’s Handlebar Impalement

In 1998, just after a photo shoot for a French magazine at his home in Temecula, CA, Metal Mulisha founder Larry Linkogle was attempting to recreate tricks performed during the shoot by a younger rider from Spain when he got himself stuck in an odd position while in mid-air and crashed into the ground, impaling himself with his handlebars. The impact of the accident destroyed Linkogle’s spleen and tore out eleven inches of his intestines. Larry lost a substantial amount of blood, and had to be resuscitated on the way to the hospital.

That wasn’t Larry Linkogle’s only brush with death. Just three years later on December 6, 2001, Linkogle was working as a stunt double for actor Vin Diesel on the set of the film “XXX” when he crashed into a helicopter while attempting to clear an 85-foot gap. The ramp sent him into one of the rotor blades of the military chopper, destroying his helmet and sending him to the ground, unconscious. The rotor blade tore his frontal lobe from his skull and the impact with the ground ripped his ACL and separated his shoulder. Though Linkogle’s body has mostly recovered from the accident, he still suffers from seizures, for which his driver’s license was revoked.

Seth Enslow’s Face Shattering Landing

Crusty Demon and Metal Mulisha rider Seth Enslow suffered a devastating injury on the first record attempt of his career. In 1999, Enslow tried to break a record on a ramp owned by fellow rider Mike Cinqmar by clearing a 230-foot ramp-to-ramp gap. Due to windy conditions, the jump was postponed by one day. Even though the wind did subside the following day, it was still strong enough to push Enslow’s bike fifteen feet past the landing ramp, causing him to crash land on flat ground, shattering his frontal sinus cavity on his handlebars. After the accident, doctors had to detach Seth’s face completely to remove the crushed bones and replace them with two titanium plates. It took fifty-five staples to reattach Enslow’s face after the surgery.

Travis Pastrana’s Spinal Dislocation

Since landing the first-ever double back-flip in competition at the 2006 X-Games, Travis Pastrana has become the face of motocross, but years before his career-affirming achievement, Pastrana suffered one of the most traumatic injuries in the history of the sport.

In 1998, during practice for a freestyle competition in Lake Havasu City, AZ, at the age of 14, Pastrana was attempting to jump a 120-foot gap when he fell just short of the landing, sticking the front of his bike deep enough into the back side of the ramp to hold it completely upright. The impact of the crash caused Pastrana’s spine to separate from his pelvis. The recovery process was long and slow for young Travis and according to his doctors, he is one of only three people in the United States to survive this type of injury.

Brian Deegan’s “Zipper”

As the motocross rider with the most wins in X-Games history, Brian Deegan has had his fair share of injuries, but his worst happened in May of 2005, during the filming of an episode of the MTV show Viva La Bam. The planned stunt involved several members of The Metal Mulisha performing tricks during ramp-to-ramp jumps as the legendary shock-rock group GWAR performed in the gap below them. There was a strong crosswind that day, which made it very difficult for the riders to maintain control of their bikes during the practice runs, but due to the shooting schedule, they went ahead with filming.

On a back-flip attempt, Deegan under-rotated his bike and hit his handlebars hard. The force inflicted serious internal injuries, including lacerations to his spleen, and completely destroyed one of his kidneys. Deegan affectionately refers to the scar from the accident as “The Zipper”. Though the crash wasn’t included in the final cut of the episode, it was used in the 2006 documentary “Disposable Hero: The Brian Deegan Story”, in which fellow Metal Mulisha rider Ronnie Faisst stated that he believes that had a piece of Deegan’s burst kidney not clogged his renal artery, Deegan would have surely bled to death internally before the paramedics could get him to the hospital.

Motocross is a dangerous sport, and while its competitors are revered by fans the world over, the risks they take can have serious and permanent consequences. If there was ever a sport worthy of the disclaimer “Don’t try this at home”, motocross would definitely be it.

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