Steiner teen suffers head, neck injuries after mountain bike crash

Antoinette McCall, 16, on a ride on her mountain bike. On Nov. 20, she tumbled off her bike, hitting her head on a rock and smashing her helmet. As of Sunday night, she was still hospitalized with head and neck injuries.

By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News

Antoinette McCall, 16, had a bike accident while on a training ride with two teammates on the Steiner Ranch trails on Tuesday, Nov. 20. She was going an estimated 8 miles an hour when she crashed, hitting her head on the rocky ground, and her helmet — which saved her head from more severe injury — shattered.  

“They were into their descent of Stampede Hill when Antoinette’s bike slipped out, we are not sure if it was loose rock that caused fall or possibly her wheel caught in a new rut caused by recent rains and overgrown grass,” said Rebekah Trevelise, McCall’s mom.

Her bike slipped out from underneath her, sending her body down on the right side of her bike.

“She hit her head on the rocky ground, breaking her helmet and fracturing her skull in several places,” Trevelise said. “She was conscious at the scene and her amazing teammates kept her calm and safe and immediately called 911 and then their parents (who then immediately called us) which immensely helped in getting aid to Antoinette very quickly.”

Trevelise said they were fortunate that the access to the trail from John Simpson Park was manageable enough for first responders to be able to reach McCall easily and carry her down the rest of the hill on the trail on a gurney to the ambulance.

“She is continuing to be so brave as doctors try to assess and provide the right care for her to heal properly at Dell Children’s,” Trevelise said. “She is strong and a fighter, so it is hard to see her suffering.”

McCall has three siblings. She has grown up in Steiner, is an accomplished musician, has been part of the Steiner Stars Swim team for many years, and races on the Steiner Ranch Interscholastic Mountain Bike team. Her mom is the founder of Trevelise Musique, a local studio that has taught music to many local students.  

“Antoinette is an accomplished cyclocross and mountain bike racer and the terrain they were riding on was by no means a challenge to her abilities,” said Erik Enge, Steiner Mountain Bike head coach. “Accidents can happen at any time; Antoinette’s happened during a social ride with her friends, going a moderately slow speed.”

“She was wearing her helmet which broke when she crashed — always wear a helmet when you bike,” Trevelise said. Even with the helmet protection, “she had a gash at the base of her skull.”

Medical treatment

McCall was transported to Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas after the crash.

She suffered several fractures of her skull, and had air and blood pockets in her head and neck area. She got six or so staples to close the gash. She was in a lot of pain and speaking gibberish and later that day moved to the pediatric intensive care unit. She became more aware and responsive later in the day.

As McCall progressed from the trauma, many tests were ordered and done including CT scan, MRI, MRV, and EKG. The room was kept dim to aid in recovery.

After a night of on and off sleep, by Wednesday morning she was speaking coherently. But by Wednesday night, the brain swelling and concussion side effects were taking place and her head pain was “skyrocketing”, reported Trevelise, who was updating family and friends on Facebook.

Thanksgiving morning, there was improvement with a longer than usual four-hour stretch of rest that night. McCall was talking well and shared she didn’t like the cervical collar which was uncomfortable with the edge of it pressing into the new staples. There was more head pain and tests.  

Later Thursday afternoon and after more tests, a 50 percent blockage/blood clot was found in McCalls’ jugular vein.

“When she fell, her brain hit/bruised the back part of the skull (cerebellum) and then bounced forward and hit/bruised the front part of her brain… we didn’t know until MRI/MRV about the frontal lobe bruising,” Trevelise said.

By Thanksgiving evening there was much progress as McCall had eaten real food for the first time in two days and had got more peaceful sleep. She also didn’t vomit.

But on Friday morning she awoke with a high amount of pain again. She had multiple seizures throughout the day and had to start a solution to increase the sodium levels in her blood, which had dropped too low.

By Saturday morning, she had a “salt wasting” disorder from her traumatic brain injury, Trevelise said.

“The medical team has only seen about five cases like this before in 30 years. She really needs to have lots of sodium now to maintain proper levels,” she said.

On Saturday afternoon, McCall was sent back to the PICU after more seizures. By Sunday evening there were good reports of a couple of normal conversations and some good rest.

“We are on this roller coaster with her and Jesus has His hand on her,” Trevelise posted.  

Hundreds of friends and family members have been sharing encouragement to McCall and the Trevelise family through prayers and many Facebook posts, visits, texts and calls.

Bike helmet safety

Wearing a bike helmet is critical to safety when riding a bike.  

“Thankfully (Antoinette) was wearing a properly fitted helmet,” said Erik Enge, Steiner Ranch Interscholastic Mountain Bike team head coach.

Antoinette McCall, a member of the team, was wearing her helmet when she crashed during a mountain bike ride last week on Nov. 20. She suffered head and neck trauma and a gash in her head. After absorbing most of the impact, her helmet was broken.

Helmets are generally made from styrofoam and last only one impact. A helmet that is worn improperly may not adequately protect the rider in the event of an impact, Enge said.

“Whether it’s just a quick ride in the parking lot, a ride on the road, or a ride on the trails, a helmet must be worn at all times,” Enge said.

The Steiner Mountain Bike team inspects helmets multiple times every season, Enge said. Organizers help their student-athletes ensure a properly fitted helmet. Helmets must be replaced at least every three years.  

“We feel so strongly about helmet safety that if a student-athlete is found to ride their bike without a helmet, even outside of team-led activities, this can lead to points deduction for an upcoming race, as per the National Interscholastic Cycling Association rules,” he added.

Antoinette McCall, pictured at an event in June of 2014, has loved cycling and mountain biking for many years.