|Steve DeMolen and "Shadow"|
The story of Bob Riley's motorcycle crash in Alaska has taken a peculiar twist, with news that the man who rescued him said he did not realize at first that the former Alabama governor was even hurt.
Steve DeMolen, a sales representative for Caterpillar, and his friend, Delany Smith, came upon the site of Riley's crash on a remote highway north of Fairbanks. During a two-hour drive to the nearest hospital, the only injury DeMolen noticed on Riley was a cut hand.
According to news reports, doctors later determined that Riley had a broken collarbone, several broken ribs, and a punctured lung. None of that, however, was apparent to DeMolen:
DeMolen, a retired master sergeant and a Harley-Davidson rider, said he came upon the accident as he crested a hill and saw wavy bike tracks on the downhill slope. The couple then saw the bike, another motorcyclist and a man trying to right himself, DeMolen said.
Riley said he didn't know what happened. Cellphone coverage was bad and no one had a satellite phone.
DeMolen said the only injury he noticed on Riley during the two-hour, 110-mile drive was a cut hand.
The first sign that Riley might be seriously injured came when they got to the hospital:
DeMolen said he pulled his truck into the emergency room entrance and told the front desk, ‘I've got a guy I picked up 110 miles north of here who needs help, he says his name is Bob Riley and he thinks he's governor of Alabama.”
“Bob can't get out himself,” DeMolen said. “I go to pull him out and see his eyes roll back in his head and he starts convulsing and I just see him dying in my pickup.”
Accounts of Riley's rescue have been conflicting. One has Riley riding in the back of DeMolen's four-wheel-drive pickup, with the Alaskan's dog, Shadow; that apparently means Riley and Shadow were together in the bed of the vehicle. (What did Shadow do to deserve such misfortune?) Another account has Riley conversing with DeMolen and Smith for much of the trip. How is that possible with Riley riding in the back of the pickup? Maybe DeMolen got confused in telling the story--or various reporters might have gotten things confused. Heck, maybe I'm confused.
Be that as it may (as lawyers love to say), the story of the former Alabama governor and his motorcycle journey into the Alaskan wilderness gets curiouser and curiouser--especially when you consider that he used the trip as an excuse to get out of testifying at the electronic-bingo trial in Montgomery.
At least the story now is planted back in the South. Riley was transported earlier this week to a hospital near Sarasota, Florida, where he has a vacation home.
As for DeMolen, he was left with a positive impression of Riley--perhaps not a surprise when you consider that we're talking about Sarah Palin country here. DeMolen told one reporter that if Riley ever ran for president, he would have one sure vote in Alaska.
DeMolen said he met Rob Riley, the former governor's son, and former first lady Patsy Riley. (Hadn't the Alaskan already suffered enough?) Both members of the Riley clan thanked DeMolen for saving Big Bob's life. Little did DeMolen know that he had come in contact with one of the sleaziest political families in modern American history.
The Rileys have been fooling people in Alabama for years, so it should be no surprise that DeMolen was fooled, too:
DeMolen never got the chance to see Riley after doctors took him away. But he met his son Rob Riley.
"He said some words that moved me quite a bit. He said that I'd saved his father's life."
He also met former First Lady Patsy Riley. who will be forever grateful.
"She said if I'm ever in Alabama, I have a place to stay (laughs)."
Think of all the unanswered questions about Bob Riley's rise to power in Alabama. How did he manage to "win" in 2002 when votes for Democrat Don Siegelman disappeared overnight in Baldwin County? How exactly were millions of dollars funneled from the Mississippi Choctaws, through Jack Abramoff, to help Riley get elected? Who was Bob Riley trying to help when he launched a crusade against electronic bingo? What exactly are Riley's ties to such conservative luminaries as Karl Rove and Tom Donohue?
The biggest questions now might be these: How do you come upon Bob Riley--with a broken collarbone, multiple broken ribs, and a punctured lung--and not even notice that he's hurt? Are Alaskans stunningly unobservant or is there something fishy about the official Riley story? Were Riley's injuries the kind that would cause someone to have a convulsion? One Web site has this to say about the possible causes of convulsions:
There are several potential causes of convulsions. Those who repeatedly experience convulsions have epilepsy, a brain dysfunction that can usually be controlled with proper medication. . . .
Abuse of alcohol or illegal drugs can also lead to convulsions, as can injury or illness of the brain. Choking, general head injury, electric shock, heart disease, stroke, and meningitis are all other possible causes of convulsions. Pregnant women experiencing toxemia and poisoning can also experience convulsions.
Was Bob Riley high? Did he have a head injury? If so, why has it not been mentioned in press reports?
And consider the timing: Why does Bob Riley seem perfectly fine until he begins to convulse--at the emergency-room door? If you are going to have a convulsion, that seems like a pretty convenient place to have one.
For those who want to grasp the classiness of the Riley clan, check out the following video of Patsy Riley speaking at an electronic-bingo rally in February 2010. It's a classic.