Nathan Krasnopoler

Nathan Krasnopoler (September 6, 1990 – August 10, 2011)

On a sunny Saturday morning in February 2011, Nathan Krasnopoler, a sophomore at Johns Hopkins University, was riding in a bike lane near campus when he collided with a turning motorist and became trapped under her car. Denied oxygen, Nathan eventually died from his injuries. A graduate of Shoshana S. Cardin High School, Nathan grew up in Ellicott City, Maryland. He was a gifted student, with a zest for life, majoring in computer science at Hopkins. 

driver on stone wall
The bicyclist and motorist were traveling west on University Parkway: the bicyclist was in the designated bike lane and the motorist was in the adjacent right lane. The motorist passed the bicycle on the right and then, without looking, turned right into a driveway. According to the police report, Nathan crashed into the passenger side of the car, flew off his bike and over the hood, finally landing in front of the turning car. The motorist continued driving until Nathan was trapped under the car. According to witnesses at the scene, the driver, age 83, got out of the car, left the engine running, and walked a short distance to sit on a nearby wall. Passers by turned the car engine off, called 911 for help, and worked with paramedics to free Nathan.

According to the many witnesses on the scene, there was no effort by the driver to summon medical assistance for the bicyclist trapped under the car. The driver failed to turn off her car, call 911 or ask for assistance. Nathan’s helmet protected his head from the initial impact but Nathan’s lungs collapsed and he was deprived of oxygen for approximately 15 to 20 minutes while trapped under the car causing severe anoxic brain injury and burns to his face.

Emergency personnel freed Nathan by lifting the car with pneumatic bags. Nathan’s helmet protected his head from the initial impact but Nathan’s lungs collapsed and the long period of oxygen deprivation while trapped under the car caused severe brain injury which was not immediately apparent from medical tests. A feeding tube was given to support his recovery. The engine, left running by the motorist, caused severe burns on Nathan’s face and body that required several surgeries.

After ten surgeries for fourth degree burns, Nathan’s overall physical condition was good, however lack of oxygen to his brain left him with minimal brain functions; he was unable to move his body, react to sound, respond to his family, or have awareness of anything. According to the neurological exams, he had only brain stem functions. Nathan was in a persistent vegetative state. The doctors determined that no meaningful recovery was possible. Nathan’s family will never know how many minutes went by while he was under the car and not breathing or what might have happened if he had received medical attention sooner.