PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Skjelse Rapoch was riding her bike along the Columbia Slough River Trail last Tuesday when something went terribly wrong.
She was taken to the hospital with broken bones in her face, 7 teeth missing, a fractured jaw, brain bruising, a concussion and a broken hand.
The 25-year-old tells KOIN 6 News she has no memory of what happened.
“I kind of remember getting ready to leave the house,” Skjelse said.
Her husband, Jeff Rapoch, was waiting for her at Portland International Raceway around 8 p.m. when his friend found her badly injured along the bike path.
“I got a phone call from my friend Eddie saying, ‘Hey, I found your wife. You need to get here right now,” Jeff said. “[Skjelse was] in the middle of the path and her bike was on one side… she was sort of sitting up and looking around really kind of bewildered.”
Skjelse was bleeding and confused when her husband arrived.
At first, Jeff said he thought she had gone over the handlebars. But doctors told them her injuries weren’t consistent with that kind of bike crash. If she went over the handlebars, they said she’d likely have broken her neck or shoulders.
“The injuries aren’t consistent with… the standard over the bars [crash],” Jeff said. “There’s a lot of force that’s being generated from another object.”
Jeff said he found a rock close to where Skjelse crashed that he believes has blood on it, which made him think she could have been assaulted. He gave the rock to police who said the incident is suspicious enough to warrant further investigation.
Today, Skjelse said she’s just grateful she was wearing a helmet.
“It saved my life,” she said. “The damage would have been irreversible.”
Skjelse said she now understands the risks of biking alone, and wants to remind other riders to find themselves a partner before heading out on local trails.
Despite her progress, she still has a long road ahead of her in terms of medical care.
“She’s just going to get better the best way she knows how, and that’s just through the kindness in her heart and the courage that she has,” Jeff said.
Anyone with information about her case should contact Portland Police Bureau.