Helping a bike traveler in dire straits

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The story in the Evansville Courier-Press of a man who “adopted” a foreign bicycle traveler recovering from a traffic collision is one of those that restores my faith in humanity.

Thomas Persson

Dr. Mell Welborn

Thomas Persson had come to the US last year from Sweden to ride his Surly Long Haul Trucker from the Washington DC area to San Francisco.

Only a few weeks into his cross-country bike tour, he was struck from behind by a motorist on a rural road near Golconda, Illinois, in July.

As reported in the Evansville (Ill.) Courier-Press, Persson remembers climbing a hill on his bike and the next minute it seems he’s waking up in a hospital bed. The 32-year-old Swedish cyclist was suffering from a severe concussion, as well as a cut up leg.


Persson was essentially marooned in Evansville. He didn’t know anyone, barely remembered how he got there, and all of his belongings were more than 90 miles away in Golconda.

Then he met Dr. Mell Welborn, a 72-year-old retired surgeon who has a position at the Deaconess Regional Trauma Center. Persson and Welborn, an avid recreational bicyclist, got to talking bicycles.

Knowing that Persson needed help, Welborn made the 185-mile round trip to Golconda to pick up his bicycle, as well as his passport and other personal belongings. Welborn dropped off the bike at a local shop on the way back.


“The next morning he was ready to be discharged,” Welborn told the Courier-Press. “We talked it over, and there didn’t seem to be any reason at all that he couldn’t come and stay with us.”

After spending a few days as a house guest of Dr. Welborn and his wife, Pat, Persson started suffering headaches caused by bleeding inside the brain and had to return to the hospital for treatment and recovery.

When he finally left for the airport to return to Sweden, it was Welborn who drove him there and saw him off.

Interviewed recently by the Courier-Press, Welborn didn’t see anything particularly exceptional about what he did.

But I think Welborn did a lot to help a fellow bicyclist in need.

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