The family of a man killed in a bicycle accident remembers his father as a champion and pioneer in adaptive sports

The family of a man killed in a bicycle accident remembers his father as a champion and pioneer in adaptive sports

Estimated reading time: 10-11 minutes

WEST JORDAN — The family of Jeff Page, the man who died in a bicycle accident on Halloween, hopes he will be remembered as someone who loved helping others, improving access to sports for wheelchair users and feeling the wind on his face.

Paige was a C6-7 quadriplegic and loved the outdoors and all it had to offer. Through hard work and determination, he discovered a way to continue biking, skiing, and enjoying nature even after an accident left him unable to move.

One of his favorite things to do is bike the Jordan River Parkway on his hand bike. Page can be found on this trail cycling several days a week for hours at a time.

On October 31, Page and his wife, Annette, were preparing to travel to St. George for a bike trip. It was no surprise to anyone that on a nice weather day, Page decided to go for a ride on the road while his wife was running some errands.

But what no one in his family expected was that he would not return.

“It was like any other day,” Paige’s daughter, Sherri Close, said. “Dad would go for a bike ride, something he did regularly and loved to do.”

Paige’s wife became concerned when he didn’t answer any of her phone calls, so she asked her brother-in-law Blake Close to look for him. He noticed part of the fence broken at the bottom of the hill near the trailhead, and found Claus Peg in the mud still strapped to his Specialized handbike with his famous lime green jacket.

The family’s entire life changed that day when they heard the news they never wanted to hear.

Adding to their heartbreak, they still don’t have a definitive answer as to why he lost control and crashed through a fence, landing partially in a canal near 8600 S. Millrace Bend.

“He was a skilled enough rider that he should have been able to point his bike in a different direction or turn himself around to stop. This doesn’t make any sense. His bike went through the fence and was hit hard as a result.” Brandi Benson, Page’s daughter, said the impact — to his already fragile head and neck — is what caused his death.

Feeling the wind on his face

“He was always talking about the beauty of nature and God’s creations and things like that,” Paige’s son, Ryan, said.

Paige loved mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, and all things outdoors. The Page children said all their vacations growing up were cycling trips.

In August 2015, Page and his wife went on a bike trip to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Paige had a great day mountain biking with his friends and they decided to go on another ride.

On the final flight at a major drop-off, Page had an accident and broke his neck, cutting off blood flow to his spinal cord. Paige no longer had control of his body from the middle of his arms and chest down.

Paige tried to come to terms with the fact that he would never be able to participate in outdoor sports again. But slowly, thanks to his “engineering mind and creativity,” Page began devising ways to make cycling possible again, Benson said.

Jeff Page smiles on his bike with his friends Ed Chuner, Carolyn Weil and John Beasley after completing a 103-mile ride from South Fork Park in Provo Canyon to Ogden Canyon in October 2020.
Jeff Page smiles on his bike with his friends Ed Chuner, Carolyn Weil and John Beasley after completing a 103-mile ride from South Fork Park in Provo Canyon to Ogden Canyon in October 2020. (Photo: Page family)

Page got a recumbent bike from the KSL classifieds where he used special gloves with posts to hold the bike’s pedals. He then uses his arms to move the bike forward.

Riding the bike was difficult at first because Paige didn’t have the same muscles and strength he had before the accident, but riding that bike made him feel normal again.

“He loved to go out and go for a ride because it would make him feel normal, because he could feel the wind on his face. It gave him a sense of freedom and normalcy,” Ryan Page said.

Jeff Page also used inline skating instead of quad skating because he wanted to go faster and enjoy “the feeling of freedom,” Ryan Page said.

A pioneer in the field of adaptive sports

After learning to ride a bike again, Jeff Page did everything he could to help others in his situation, Page’s family said.

“His mind never stopped thinking about what he could do to improve and teach others — whether they were in his situation or not — that they could go out and do it,” Ryan Page said.

Since Jeff Page was unable to use his fingers, he developed a custom pendant device with buttons he could press with his chin to engage the parking brake and shift gears. He devised ways to put electric auxiliary motors on handbikes so he could go up hills himself and how to swap batteries himself so he could travel longer distances. He even designed a custom bike rack to hold his and his wife’s bikes.

“He hated being dependent on others,” Benson said. “He wanted to be as independent as possible.” Sherri Close added that no matter how much people were willing to help him, he didn’t want to be a burden.

Having to rely on everyone else to be his hands was difficult for him, but Jeff Page continued to overcome the challenges. Paige’s family said their father relied a lot on their mother who was always there to take care of him day in and day out.

His children joked that their father would always ask for help with something he said would be quick, but it would often end up being 2 a.m. by the time the task was finished. Page often consumed it in all his projects, but Page never gave up perfecting the designs and contraptions, said his brother-in-law Zach Benson.

Ryan Page said his father knew in his mind how he wanted to do things, but it was difficult for him to talk to others about how to do it. “Most of the time things didn’t go as planned, but we adapted and got through it.”

Jeff Page developed relationships with other people and organizations who were trying to make sports accessible to people with disabilities. He has worked closely with Wasatch Adaptive Sports, the National Ability Center in Park City and the TRAILS program at the University of Utah.

Jeff Page is hooked up for a ski session before skiing down the mountain in Park City.
Jeff Page is hooked up for a ski session before skiing down the mountain in Park City. (Photo: Page family)

“These programs were so amazing and he wanted to do everything he could to give back to them,” Ryan Page said.

Jeff Page wrote an article for Wasatch Adaptive Sports about his journey into cycling and had a YouTube channel that he used to inspire others to persevere through physical limitations.

Benson said her father became a guinea pig for his friend’s company, Electrify Bike Co., experimenting with new motors and designs to see what worked best. Jeff Page never stopped wanting to make improvements to give hope to others who were in the same situation.

“He was a pioneer. He was making completely new things that no one else was doing or no one was doing. Because no one in his position had ever had that drive before,” Ryan Page said.

He joked that sometimes he and his brothers would get tired of the idea of ​​changing the engine again, but their father always made sure they knew because he wanted to constantly develop and improve products for people like him.

Benson said her father was always very angry about the high prices of cars for people with disabilities. Jeff Page and his father owned an auto body shop and paint shop most of his life, where he restored old cars. After his accident, he began using his company to convert trucks into affordable and accessible vehicles.

Benson said her father loved driving a pickup truck, but someone else approached his company about needing a vehicle at a certain time. So he sold his favorite truck without having another ready for himself, because he knew they needed it more than him.

“We were like, ‘Dad, are you selling your truck?’ And he was like, “Well, they need it!” Benson said.

A legacy of faith, family and cycling

Once Jeff Page modified his bike enough that he could ride it himself, he was always on the road. The family had been tracking him on Strava to make sure they knew where he was and his phone was always available to call if he needed help.

“As a family, we were used to those moments where he would roll over and call and say, ‘Help.’ We got to a point where we could help him, and we knew how to do it without hurting him,” Blake Close said.

Often times, Jeff Page would ask strangers on the road for help. Page’s children said breakdowns would happen, or their father would sometimes tip over, and he would loiter on the road until someone came to help him up. He didn’t care who was on the road, he was just making friends with whoever passed by.

“People were watching our dad,” Sherri Close added.

“There were a lot of earthly angels who helped him,” Benson said. Page’s children said anyone who used the trails frequently might have seen him there riding a bike.

Flowers and a banner honor Jeff Page, who died on Halloween in a bicycle accident near the Jordan River Gorge in West Jordan.
Flowers and a banner honor Jeff Page, who died on Halloween in a bicycle accident near the Jordan River Gorge in West Jordan. (Photo: Cassidy Wixom, KSL.com)

Page’s family said their father lived for faith, family and cycling, and considered most people his family.

“He wasn’t angry or bitter at all. He had some very important spiritual experiences that helped him be at peace,” Ryan Page said.

Jeff Page loved sharing his testimony of Jesus Christ while he was in the hospital recovering from his accident. Ryan Page said his father loved talking to people and getting to know them in order to build relationships.

“It wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows. We’ve been through trials and struggles and it’s been hard. We’ve battled depression and anxiety and all the things that come with that, but we’ve kept moving forward. We’ve always been a close family,” Ryan Page said.

Sherry Close said her father hated crowds, but loved forming one-on-one relationships with people. He immersed himself in everything he could while meeting people and making friends with everyone he spoke to.

“We just want people to know how amazing our dad was and the lives he touched and the perseverance and dedication he had to live his life to the fullest,” Sherri Close said.

Paige’s children hope his story gives inspiration and hope to others going through the same thing.

“That’s why he’s done a lot of things in cycling to try to help other people get out and experience the outdoors,” Ryan Page said.

Benson said she hopes they can turn this negative experience into something positive. Maybe someone has recently been paralyzed and is feeling down, she said, but she hopes her father can see that he can continue to do the things he loves.

“He wants this to affect others,” Ryan Page’s wife, Julie, said.

Wasatch Adaptive Sports is hosting a memorial ride in honor of Jeff Page on Saturday at 1 p.m. The memorial ride will begin at Millrace Park in Taylorsville at 1150 W. 5400 South. Participants are encouraged to bring their bikes and wear lime green for the page.

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Cassidy Wixom covers Utah County communities and is the evening breaking news reporter for KSL.com.

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