- Associated Press - Sunday, March 30, 2014

GREENVILLE, Mich. (AP) - Bowling is just a game.

For some, bowling is just a hobby, a night out of the house. For others, it’s about competition and being the best. But mostly, it’s just a game.

For Greenville bowler Ryan Johnson, it took a tragic event to realize bowling was just a game. Really, not all that important in the grand scheme of life, according to The Daily News of Greenville ( http://bit.ly/1kFXmci )

On Dec. 19, 2012, after a night of bowling, Johnson and two friends were involved in a fatal accident in Ronald Township.

Brett Petersen of Greenville was driving. Johnson and Chad Saladin of Greenville were passengers in a Ford F-150. Petersen lost control of the vehicle, which left the roadway. The truck went airborne and came to rest on the passenger side of the vehicle.

Petersen was able free himself from the truck and called for help. Johnson sustained non-life threatening injuries in the crash. Saladin died at the scene.

“All I remember is asking how the guy (Saladin) in the middle was doing,” Johnson said. “I was told he didn’t make it. I don’t remember anything else after that.”

The accident was caused by a combination of alcohol and poor road conditions.

Johnson - an avid bowler and member of the Greenville Bowling Association Hall of Fame - injured his right arm at the elbow and shoulder in the accident. Due to nerve damage, he lost feeling in his bowling arm and underwent two surgeries.

Johnson has been one of the area’s best bowlers for years. An annual member of the All-City team, he routinely averages 200 and higher.

With a rocket for an arm, pin point accuracy and the ability to adjust to any lane condition, Johnson made bowling look easy. Prior to the accident, he was averaging 210, 215 and 232 in three different leagues, all at Greenville Lanes.

That all changed after the accident.

Not only because of the injury, but because of the emotional pain of the tragedy, Johnson thought he was finished as a bowler.

“I didn’t want to bowl after the accident,” he said “I didn’t want to leave the bowling alley anymore, remembering what happened and not seeing Chad and Brett there.”

At the time, Johnson had two 800 series (804, 815) and 16 perfect games (12 sanctioned) on his resume. If he was to continue, he would have to do so as a left-hander.

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