Beauchamp's recovery is remarkable, as his spirit

After near fatal motorcycle crash, Museum of Western Art executive director is back to work.

Darrell Beauchamp remembers the day pretty well until he got onto his new Indian motorcycle for his first ride.

A longtime motorcycle rider, Beauchamp had long sought to add an Indian Sport to his riding resume.

So, on Aug. 20, Beauchamp, the executive director of Kerrville's Museum of Western Art, went down to Boerne to pick up his new custom-made Indian Sport motorcycle. Forty-five minutes later, Beauchamp was near death — critically injured from a crash he still cannot explain along Highway 46 near Boerne.

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"What's really weird about the mind is I got on Highway 46 at Boerne and rode it for 25 miles before I wrecked," Beauchamp said. "I don't remember any of that ride. I don't ever remember getting on Highway 46. So, is that the mind going back and erasing the pain of the wreck or is that I blacked out and I rode it for 25 miles blind. I don't know."

What we know is that Beauchamp is fortunate to be alive. His condition was so severe that paramedics decided to drive him to University Hospital in San Antonio rather than wait for a helicopter to take him to the trauma unit. EMS workers, according to Beauchamp, weren't sure if he would survive the ambulance ride.

"What I do know is that good doctoring and good nursing saved my life," Beauchamp said. "For that, I will be eternally grateful."

Beauchamp's chances of survival hinged on his doctors bringing the latest technology to the forefront to repair the right side of his ribs — 11 of the 12 broken. The doctors used state-of-the-art plating technology to rebuild his rib cage.

"It's pretty formidable stuff," Beauchamp said of the surgeries that saved his life. "If you think about it, five years ago, they couldn't have done what they did. They're pretty common about it.

Initially, the suggestion was Beauchamp hit an animal — perhaps, a small wild hog. However, Beauchamp said the Texas Department of Public Safety could not find evidence to support this theory.

"An animal would be a convenient bad guy," admitted Beauchamp, who was wearing safety gear, including a helmet, when the crash happened.

So, the crash is all on Beauchamp — at least for now. The reality is that the timing of his ordeal faced complications from the surge of COVID-19. It was a reminder, at least to Beauchamp, about how powerfully the pandemic has shaped our daily lives.

"I had no advocate for the 10 days in the ICU," Beauchamp said. "They are not allowing people to come and hold your hand and sit in the emergency room with you. I was in ICU for 10 days without (his wife, Jan), without the ability to see my family.

"That's a scary non-advocacy thing, and that's because of COVID. They had no rooms. I spent a day and a half in the emergency room in a hallway because they didn't have a room to put me in. They had no rooms for us."

Beauchamp's wife, Jan, confined to waiting outside of the hospital, was forced to do many Facetime calls and texts with her husband. As he was in the ICU, Texas was enduring some of its worst days of the delta variant surge of COVID-19. Beauchamp saw at least four people near him die.

"I lost two different roommates," Beauchamp said.

While this was going on, Beauchamp's Museum of Western Art colleagues faced the news of the severity of his injuries. However, they kept on working in preparation for the museum's next big show — the 38th Annual Roundup.

"I've got the best Western art staff in the country right now," Beauchamp said. "There's just a good group of good people who work very hard to make this a great-great museum. On top of that, I've got 38 volunteers. We've got 38 of the top people in the country."

And with that group, the Roundup went on just as Beauchamp planned. Now, he's still recovering, but the one thing that he holds true when it comes to his day job — he's still having fun.

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