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USING HIS HEAD BRINGS HONORS

The boy saved by his bicycle helmet receives two new ones and recognition for safe biking.

Less than a week after he was injured in a bizarre accident, sixth-grader Johnathon Ferland received a warm reception when he returned to school Monday.

Officials from various city and community agencies honored the 11-year-old Largo Middle School student for his commitment to wearing a bicycle helmet.

The black Razor helmet likely saved Johnathon's life after a pole fell on his head the afternoon of Jan. 29, police officials say.

Largo police Chief Lester Aradi praised Johnathon for making good decisions. "We have too many examples of people who did things the wrong way, with tragic consequences," he said.

Aradi gave Johnathon a new helmet and a certificate of recognition before honoring the crossing guards who attended to him before paramedics arrived.

Johnathon said the accident, strengthened his resolve to always wear his helmet. Johnathon said a lot of kids don't wear helmets because they think it makes them look "uncool."

Marcy Tilmann, who founded a nonprofit group that gives free helmets to kids who pledge to wear them, said those kids are wrong.

Tilmann's adult son wasn't wearing a helmet when he died in a skateboarding accident in 2005. "You made a cool decision to wear a helmet," she told Johnathon after presenting him with another new helmet, an extreme sports model.

Johnathon was also recognized by Largo City Commissioner Rodney Woods and All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, where he was taken after the accident. Johnathon said he has been feeling lucky since then.

Rita Farlow can be reached at farlow@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4162.

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