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Benefits set for firefighter hurt in motorcycle crash

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

Frederick County firefighter and jail officer Matt Helsley remains in a hospital after suffering serious injuries in a motorcycle crash earlier this month.

Helsley's condition appears to improve each day by "leaps forward" but he faces a long road to recovery while undergoing treatment at Inova Fairfax, his brother, Adam Orndorff, a sergeant with the Winchester Police Department, said Friday. Helsley is still in the intensive care unit at the hospital, according to Orndorff.

"He's making steps but they told us it's going to be a very long, slow process," Orndorff said.

Recovery also means mounting medical bills for Helsley and his family, who continue to receive support from the community. Family and friends also plan to hold fundraisers to help Helsley, his wife and their three children.

The first fundraiser takes place Saturday at Mayfest in Strasburg. Family and friends plan to have a booth at the festival set up all day by the town's police department and government center on East King Street. They will sell baked goods and possibly raffle off items at the booth during the festival to raise money, Orndorff said.

Friends and family also plan to hold a benefit motorcycle run on July 1 for Helsley. The run will begin at Grove's Harley Davidson dealership on Millwood Pike in Frederick County. Riders will travel to the Star Tannery Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company station for a cook-out barbecue. The event will feature raffles and live music, Orndorff said. Participants pay $15 per motorcycle or $5 per person to attend the run and cook-out, Orndorff said.

Helsley works as a corrections officer at the Northwestern Regional Adult Detention Center. Helsley also volunteers as a firefighter with the Star Tannery Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company where he served as its chief for several years, according to Orndorff. Helsley's wife also works as a corrections officer at the regional jail, Orndorff said.

Support for the avid motorcyclist continues to pour in from his colleagues and the community.

"He's probably the nicest guy you'll ever meet," Orndorff said. "I think in the first two or three days he had about 100 visitors at the hospital and getting cards from different fire departments in the area. People have been very helpful with donations and food."

Helsley and his wife, who have three children, just bought their home in January, according to Orndorff.

Even though Helsley stepped down as chief at the Star Tannery station when he moved closer to Winchester, he remains active with the company, Orndorff said.

Helsley, a rider with about 15 years experience, crashed the afternoon of May 7 a short distance from his home on Poorhouse Road near Indian Hollow Road in Frederick County while riding his brother's motorcycle, Orndorff said.

"As he always does, he was going to go help a friend who had broken down," Orndorff recalled. "He used to be a mechanic at Woodstock Garage for a lot of years so whenever anybody calls he runs and helps them out so that's where he was going when he wrecked."

The incident, which occurred at the intersection, controlled by stop signs, remains under investigation, according to Orndorff.

"We don't know if he got kind of crowded off the road by a vehicle or if an animal came out," Orndorff said, noting that two stop signs control the three-way intersection. "Sometimes people run stop signs 'cause it's a back road so maybe someone didn't stop completely."

The crash left Helsley with serious injuries and had to be flown to Inova Fairfax. Helsley broke nearly all the bones of his face as well as several vertebrae, according to Orndorff. Helsley had been scheduled to undergo reconstructive surgery on his face but a heart complication prompted doctors to reset the treatment for next week, Orndorff said.

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