Janice and Ivan “Skip” Robinson of Ashland feel lucky to be alive after surviving a motorcycle accident in Klamath Falls. - Bob Pennell

Couple see miracles after near-fatal crash

Ivan "Skip" Robinson and his wife, Janice, knew that motorcycles were dangerous. Years ago, they laid one down and walked away with bruises.

What the Ashland couple weren't expecting on that morning of July 31 as they motored through Klamath Falls was someone running a stop sign at 9:30 in the morning. With no time to avoid a collision, they rode right into the van. The impact sent glass shards slicing into Skip Robinson's throat and nearly killed him.

Sitting on his porch a few weeks after the accident, the retired letter carrier shows a visitor pictures made while he was at Sky Lakes Medical Center in Klamath Falls. His injuries are painfully obvious — lacerations, stitches and bandages on his legs chest and neck. Janice Robinson, who escaped with relatively minor hand and foot injuries, said her husband's survival is the result of a series of miracles.

The impact with the 1993 Dodge minivan sent Skip over the handlebars and into the van's rear-view mirror, which severely lacerated his neck, punctured a lung and broke his sternum, a clavicle and three ribs. Janice, who was hurled over the van, ran back and found her husband face-down in a pool of blood, breathing weakly.

"There was a highly skilled EMT, Jerry Baird, at the scene and he put his hand into the neck wound, stopping the bleeding. He knew what to do," Janice says. "The trauma team at the hospital operated immediately and it was miracle after miracle. The initial CAT scan showed a fractured vertebrae and blood pooling in the brain, but the next day, those were gone. They couldn't find them."

But the biggest miracle, the couple says, is the outpouring of love from friends, family and community — and the realization that every day of life is a gift.

"Every moment is precious and every relationship. It's what life is all about," says Skip. "There's no restrictions anymore on me telling people 'I love you.' It's human nature to love and we suppress it, but I don't suppress it any more. It's honest and people accept it."

The collapsed lung and the shattered collarbone (both will require surgeries) are running up the couple's medical bills and keeping Skip, 55, from pursuing work in construction and landscaping. Most of his medical expenses are covered by insurance, but their living expenses go on. They also are applying for assistance under the state's Criminal Victim Assistance Program.

The driver of the minivan, Mark Alan Martin, 48, was arrested on two counts of driving under the influence of intoxicants and two counts of second-degree assault. The charges could bring 70 months for each victim, for a total of almost 12 years.

When it comes to the accident, Janice is philosophical but realistic.

"You've got to take it as it comes," she says. "Our lives are closer together. We don't hate the guy. Hopefully, he will get a good prison minister to help change his life."

"It's sad for him to be in that state," Skip says. "I hope for the combination of justice and redemption for him, and that he gets what he deserves. If jail saves someone else from the kind of hardship I'm going through, it's good. There's a lot of drunk drivers out there."

Skip and Janice were sweethearts at Ashland High School and have been married 36 years. They have a daughter, Tammie Longiotti, who lives in Ashland, and a son, Lonnie Robinson, in Klamath Falls. They were in Klamath Falls to visit Lonnie on his birthday when the accident happened.

Longiotti said, "It's hard to see bad things happen to good people, but it's part of life. I feel God placed the right people at the right spot, people who knew what they were doing and saved him. I believe my parents had a lot left to do here on earth."

About the drunk driver, Longiotti observed, "I have a certain level of compassion, but it also brings to mind that we all have choices in life and need to be constantly aware of their consequences. It could easily have been prevented. It's necessary that he not be on the street, available for this to happen to someone else."

A neighbor, Serena Robinson (no relation), who grew up with Longiotti, says Skip and Janice "are really using this for the better and getting many blessings. They live their lives every day for others, and God is not done using them. What I learned from this is to tell people every day how much you love them."

The accident has deepened the couple's faith. "God is a good God," Skip said.

The accident also has produced some unexpected side effects. Skip says three medical professionals at the hospital told him they were shopping for motorcycles to cut down their fuel bills, but his accident made them change their minds.

Skip has been riding motorcycles all his life and has another one in his garage. He hasn't made up his mind whether to sell it or not, but Janice assures him she will keep her scooter for trail riding, and she wants Skip to keep his, too, as it's one of their more peaceful activities.

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at

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