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October 29, 2003

Motorcyclist Injured

From: WBBM, IL - Oct 29, 2003

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) -- A Belorussian motorcyclist attempting to be the only deaf, non-speaking biker to cross the globe is recovering after a wreck with a tractor-trailer, officials said.

Vladimir Yarets was riding Interstate 74 through McLean County on Oct. 13 when he was struck by a truck's trailer and sent sprawling onto the grass, according to state police.

"At first, we didn't think he was going to survive, but it looks like he's going to be OK," state police Lt. Ted Kerrn said.

The 62-year-old from Minsk has traveled Europe, the Caribbean and most of the United States. His next destination was to be South America.

Yarets' travels and attempt to get in the Guinness Book of Records have been documented on several Web sites. He has traveled on a low budget, accepting donations and lodging from friends and strangers along the way.

Well-wishers from around the world have sent cards to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, where Yarets is recovering, hospital spokesman Chris Lofgren said.

"He's pretty well-known in the motorcycling community. He's a unique guy," Lofgren said.

Yarets' injuries include a broken pelvis, broken arm and broken leg.

Kerry Willey, coordinator of Illinois State University's motorcycle safety program, is storing Yarets' 1990 Czech Jawa motorcycle in Normal.

Willey said he met Yarets this summer in Montana at the Iron Butt Association Rally, a gathering of long-distance riders. He said the motorcycle is in bad shape and might not be road-ready again, though he believes Yarets will.

"He's in pretty good physical condition (before the crash), so I think he'll be able to continue his trip somewhere down the road," Willey said.

Yarets has no insurance, and friends are gathering money to pay his medical costs.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)