Nevada businessman needs community's help building motorcycle for disabled vet
Tyler Southern grew up around motorcycles. His parents both had them and so did he. But the Marine can no longer ride after the war in Afghanistan left him as a triple amputee. Now a Nevada man is working to get him on a bike again and he's hoping for the public's help.
Southern was on a tour in Afghanistan in 2010 when an improvised explosive device instantly changed his life forever.
"Stepped on 10 pounds of homemade explosives, it was buried six inches straight down, bounced me off the building. They said I stopped breathing a few times on the ground," Southern said.
Medics and doctors fought hard to save his life.
"They lost count at 160 units of blood, my lungs collapsed in the double digits, I flatlined in the double digits," he said.
The veteran thought his motorcycle days were over. That is until Justin Von Metal heard about his story.
"Somebody that's put up their freedom and has given up so much. It's time that we as the American people give back to them," Von Metal said.
Von Metal owns Von Metal V-Twin Racing HD Performance, a motorcycle shop in Reno. He's agreed to modify a trike for Southern, who lives in Jacksonville, Florida.
"I just couldn't say no. Everything about it is inspirational to get him back on the trike, riding again," said Von Metal. "This is a true American hero,"
Von Metal faces a real challenge. He needs to find a way for Southern to ride with just one hand. The IED blew off both of Southern's legs and right arm. His left arm is disfigured.
"The biggest challenge is keeping him saddled into the bike and be able to maneuver given the back that he's only got his left arm and three workable fingers," Von Metal said. "How can he steer it, how can he hang on, how can he shift."
Black Hills Harley Davidson is giving Von Metal a good deal on a 1999 Harley Davidson trike. He's trying to raise $35,000 through a GoFundMe account to pay to pick up the bike from South Dakota and pay for parts.
"We're donating shop time, all the mechanical work, all the paint, all the fab work," Von Metal said. "We need the community to come together. We need to help generate $35,000."
Any extra money will go to Southern's family. He has a wife, a four-year-old son and two-year-old daughter.
The motorcycle is expected to be rebuilt and given to Southern at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in August. It will be a tight deadline but both men are excited.
"The dream's coming true," Southern said.