MILES CITY– A Miles City motorcycle rider caught a lucky break after crashing his motorbike at the Glendive Short Pine Off-Highway Vehicle Area last September.
Lacey Haughian, a BLM Miles City Field Office seasonal recreation employee was working at the OHV area taking care of the many routine duties that staff perform during the high-use summer season. However, saving this young man’s life was anything but routine.
Torrey Watts, a resident of Miles City, was enjoying some dirt bike riding with a friend, when he wrecked his bike. The impact ripped the helmet visor off and left him with a severe head injury, in spite of the protection offered by the helmet.
Haughian didn’t see the accident, but the sudden lack of engine noise struck her as unusual. It didn’t take long for her to spot Watts and his bike, separated and motionless in the grass.
A quick assessment by Haughian found the rider unconscious, whose eye was rapidly swelling. She made a prompt 911 call and the local ambulance, sheriff and a highway patrolman responded and rushed Watts to the emergency room at the Glendive hospital.
A traumatic brain injury diagnosis prompted a life-flight to Billings and subsequent transfer to the Craig Hospital in Denver, Colorado for further treatment.
“It did not feel right leaving him there (alone) until the family arrived to be with him,” said Haughian, who kept close by throughout the medical assessment. That point was not lost on his parents.
“That says everything anyone would need to know about her character,” said Becky Watts, Torrey’s mother, who along with her husband Blayne made a rushed 76-mile drive from Miles City.
According to the Montana Highway Patrolman on scene, Haughian’s quick thinking and prompt assessment bought the young rider the precious minutes that separated a happy ending from tragedy. Patrolman Derek Kearnes said that if it wasn’t for Lacey’s “quick actions and level-headedness,” Torrey Watts would now be in a completely different situation.
Haughian was awarded the “SHINE (Safety Habit Is Needed Every Day) Award” by the Eastern Montana/Dakotas District Office as the “Greatest Contribution” to safety for fiscal year 2018. Torrey Watts has since returned home and is on the road to recovery.