The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Bullet Bob: 'Yes, I will ride again'

Cycle enthusiast recovering from crash in July.

 

September 2, 2018

Courtesy photo

Bob Vilandry, standing in the dark glasses, was welcomed home on Saturday.

CLOVIS — More than 40 days since a disastrous motorcycle wreck in northern New Mexico, Robert "Bullet Bob" Vilandry is feeling better.

"I made it, thanks to everybody in Clovis and my customers and my friends that got me through this with their prayers and their positive thoughts and everything," Vilandry said Friday from Albuquerque in a telephone interview with The News.

He was speaking just hours after the removal of wires from his jaw.

"And it's so much nicer to be able to talk and not drool," he said.

Vilandry and his wife Donna said he had a forbidding prognosis in the first few days after his July 21 accident, which resulted in multiple brain bleeds and broken bones, including extensive damage to his face. Yet several surgeries and weeks later, he had his homecoming Saturday in Clovis, and hopes to ease his way back into his eponymous Main Street collectibles shop.

"The first three days was pretty much hell for me because we really weren't sure if he was going to pull through. But he had great doctors and nurses by his side, helping him through," said Donna Vilandry. "I have a strong Christian faith, and I knew prayer would get him through this as well and it did."

It wasn't the first bad accident on a bike for Bullet Bob, but it was surely the worst. In more than half a century "racing and riding motorcycles," he said the next nastiest experience was at age 17, when a car hit him on his first street bike and put him in a hospital.

But that didn't keep him from getting back on the road, nor did a dirt-bike wreck in 2008, and neither will this one, he said.

"It'll probably be on my dirt-bike first, but yes, I will ride again," he said. "I've been doing it my whole life. Since I was 8 years old ... I don't think I've ever been without a motorcycle."

At any rate, he won't ride again on the Harley-Davidson that carried him last month through twisting roads "up in Cimarron Canyon," where he and his son Sean and a friend were driving after a motorcycle rally in Raton.

Vilandry doesn't remember much of the accident, or of the two weeks following. But when he woke up in the hospital he learned the motorcycle he'd fixed only months earlier from a fire last year in his garage was totaled, and he had a prolonged recovery ahead of him.

"I don't remember a whole lot. We ate breakfast and then went for a ride. I remember going through all the twists and just having fun, just kind of riding ... and then I woke up a little over two weeks later in the hospital," he said. "I remember bits and pieces, not of the wreck, but bits and pieces of being in the ICU."

As for the rest, he has to rely on what others told him. By various accounts it happened at one of the turns, when Vilandry and an oncoming pickup truck came too close to the yellow line between them.

"Evidently I stopped an F150 with my face," he said. "You got to understand my face was crushed, because I didn't have a helmet. The EMT said that all I would say was 'Just put my jaw back together and I'll be OK.'"

Vilandry had a fortunate turn, too: it so happened that soon behind him on the road, in two separate vehicles, were a nurse and an EMT. When Sean Vilandry realized his father wasn't close enough on his tail, he turned around and found him sprawled on the road with the first-on-scene attending.

He was ultimately flown by helicopter to the University of New Mexico hospital, where he was treated for extensive injuries.

"I had eight wires holding my jaw together because I had shattered my upper jaw, nose bridge and eye socket," he said. "I look like a different person a little bit, my face isn't going to be quite the same."

Vilandry returns with some hardware, including screws in his left leg and pelvis.

"But to even think that I'm alive after that, I can walk and I can talk. It's just unbelievable," he said.

 

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