CANTON — Tommy Tompkins of Carthage said Wednesday that he’s lucky to be alive after his head was split open Monday night when his motorcycle struck a large pothole on Staples Hill Road and flipped him and the bike.

After visiting a friend, Tompkins was heading home on a road he hadn’t driven on for a year and following a car when the accident happened at about 8:40 p.m., so he didn’t see the pothole, he said.

“It threw me right over the handlebars like a bucking bronco,” he said.

Tompkins, 43, said he was descending a hill behind his friends, Bill and June Milledge of Mexico, who were in the car, when the front wheel on his 2013 Harley-Davidson Road Glide dropped down into the deepest part of the pothole.

“Bill saw the whole thing in his mirror,” Tompkins said.

“She hit pretty hard,” he said of the bike. “It made such a bang that a homeowner about 100 yards away heard the bang of the bike hitting the pothole. We weren’t even going all that fast: 25 to 30 miles an hour.”

The Harley sustained a flattened front tire, scrapes, scratches and some bent parts. A friend retrieved the motorcycle.

Tompkins, who was wearing short pants but not a helmet, said he weighs 350 pounds and was still thrown 60 to 80 feet while the Harley slid down the road on its side about 20 feet. He said its crash bar protected the bike as it’s designed to do in such accidents.

“I was awake through the whole thing,” he said. “I sat up and said, ‘Oh my God,’ and started moving my limbs around to see if they were broken and pulled my right arm up to my face. I was pretty lucky, actually.”

Investigating Maine State Police Trooper Jeff DeGroot agreed.

“He was coming downhill when he hit a pretty good-sized pothole and dumped it,” DeGroot said Wednesday. “I found him half laying in the ditch when I pulled up and the bike was twisted sideways. He was conscious and alert.”

Med-Care Ambulance was called to tend to Tompkins, who first struck the pavement with the top of his head, ripping away hair and flesh and splitting his head open. He also suffered cuts and serious road rash.

Med-Care took him to Rumford Hospital, where Tompkins said his head wound was stapled closed. He said his head was also X-rayed to make sure his brain was still attached.

“They pulled a few rocks out of my head at the hospital and gave them to me as souvenirs,” he said.

Tompkins said he’s tried helmets, but doesn’t like wearing them. DeGroot said Tompkins had a helmet in one of his bike’s saddlebags, but Tompkins said it was his son’s helmet. He also carries heavy leather gear in the bag for his son to wear to protect him.

DeGroot and Tompkins said they weren’t sure if the impact with the pothole bent the Harley’s front rim.

“That would have been a factor in what caused him to lose control of the bike,” DeGroot said.

He said the road’s condition played a role in the accident. Additionally, he said speed was another factor, but only in the sense that Tompkins couldn’t control the bike when he hit the pothole. The speed limit where the accident happened is 35 mph, DeGroot said.

“It’s the same idea as if a cat was in the road and you have to avoid it,” he said. “You have to be able to keep control of your vehicle.”

Tompkins was upset that the town didn’t have signs up warning motorcyclists of potholes in the road. Potholes that he said the town road crew filled in with pavement on Tuesday morning.

“A lot of people had been complaining about the potholes before my accident,” he said. “It was such a deep pothole and there were worse ones down the road.

“I’d never been on the road this year, so it was not like I was aware there’d be potholes on it like the one I hit,” Tompkins said. “There should have been a sign saying, ‘Potholes Next Mile.’ The tire hit the deep spot and it hit hard enough to buck me off, and I weigh 350 pounds.”

Tompkins is a self-employed businessman who owns and operates Tompkins Heating & Plumbing and Tommy Guns Pitstop, a pub and grill restaurant at 63 Roxbury Road (Route 17) in Mexico.

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