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Posts Tagged ‘Death’

Twin Peaks Restaurant

Nearly two years after a deadly and horrific shooting it remains clouded with mystery, is intriguing and familiar, all at the same time.

There are unexpected admirers, hundreds of legal proceedings and thousands of investigative hours completed to date.  There is an on-going “outlaw motorcycle gang” task force and there was an interesting book written by Donald Charles Davis aka. “The Aging Rebel” about Texas law enforcement, the clubs, the personalities and the event.

Photo sampling of Twin Peaks shooting

Of course, I’m talking about the Twin Peaks Massacre — the deadliest biker violence in U.S. history that took place on May 17, 2015.

Make no mistake, some motorcycle clubs never shy away from flaunting their brutal pedigree, and in Waco, TX the shootout left 9 dead (four by police) and 18 wounded in or near the popular Central Texas restaurant.  Reportedly a dispute broke out, escalated to include knifes and firearms and then spilled into a shooting rampage in the restaurant parking lot.  Remarkably, law enforcement was aware of the large “gathering,” along with the potential for trouble and were pre-positioned in a show of force to address or stamp down any violence.

Shooting aftermath…

If only the parking lot could talk…

Once the deadly shooting brawl subsided, law enforcement arrested 177 persons (173 male and 4 females) from a variety of motorcycle clubs as well as everyday motorcycle enthusiasts/patrons who were in attendance.  Some may have rode in for fine dining, but they didn’t ride out.  Instead they were arrested on organized crime charges.

Yeah it’s Texas, but the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives retained and have in possession more than 475 weapons from the scene, including at least 151 firearms.

Sure, it can be a messy world, but this was no motorcycle episode of Sons of Anarchy debating how the biker life is too short for would-haves and the need to follow your own compass.  This was a disgustingly brutal and super bloody mass killing on full display during a public motorcycle “gathering.”  Is there any doubt why the press and media continue to push a negative biker narrative?

Sadly, the nine dead were members of the Bandidos and Cossacks motorcycle clubs.

Within a few hours accusations that the shootings were an aggressive overreaction by law enforcement began.  Then within days the conspiriacy rumors surfaced that it was a Federal agency tactic, motivated to bring the 1% clubs down.  And if that didn’t spark enough law enforcement skeptisim, many of the mass arrests were misclassified and have created severe consequences to innocent people not to mention the potential for numerous civil rights violations.

Jump forward nearly 2-years after the gathering and shooting spree or massacre, there remains 154 persons, currently under indictment. Nobody has been cleared.  38 people, including women, are still “under investigation.”  One indictee and one potential indictee has died during this lengthy delay to find justice.

There’s been a number of national and international publications “explaining” the event.  From the beginning, authorities in Texas have worked to control the narrative of what happened at Twin Peaks.  Almost 200 people potentially face long prison terms for conspiring to act criminally although prosecutors have refused to state what each of those defendants actually did other than what looks like they were trying to survive a mass shooting event.

Over the years motorcycle enthusiasts have become familiar with government entities nibbling away at their freedoms and this has a Déjà vu feeling.

I wasn’t there, but can imagine this event being a “change your life” moment.  I do recall instances of being in a public setting with riding buddies, other motorcycle enthusiasts along with various motorcycle club members enjoying the rally experience.  Only to witness a spark of personality that ignites a “bring it on bigger” a‘tude and the flaunting of an aggressive remedy putting everyone at risk.

I was born at night, but it wasn’t last night and being attentive to your surroundings can be just as important to protecting yourself as putting on a helmet.  I like riding motorcycles and the overall rally/group experience, but I also like my life away from it.

But I’ve digressed.

I’ve been monitoring the bits of information about this shootout as well as the legal proceedings and am reminded of that carney (Anderson) in the Twin Peaks TV series.  Every summer the Carnivàle came to town.  The strange little fellow spoke in an unusual manner.  He would speak backwards and used phonetically reversed speaking as a “secret language.”

It’s as if there is some type of “secret language” being used in Waco.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but according to Katherine K. Young who wrote in her book“every real conspiracy has had at least four characteristic features: groups, not isolated individuals; illegal or sinister aims, not ones that would benefit society as a whole; orchestrated acts, not a series of spontaneous and haphazard ones; and secret planning, not public discussion” — all of this seems to imply that nothing with the Twin Peaks Massacre happened by accident, nothing is as it seems, and everything is connected.

Photos courtesy of Waco Tribune-Herald (Jerry Larson) and Google Image Search

Some references in developing this post:

Motorcycle Profiling Project

One Percenter Bikers

Daily Mail

GQ Article

Texas Monthly

Aging Rebel

Waco Tribune-Herald

 

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novelty-helmetOn Saturday Andrew Barns, 26, died when a car pulled out in front of him on his motorcycle at 185th and Farmington Road shortly before 7 p.m.  According to Sheriff reports he was wearing a novelty helmet and the medical examiner will determine if the novelty helmet contributed to his fatal injuries.  No citations were issued (at this time) to the driver.

I didn’t know Mr. Barns, but would like to offer my condolences to his family and friends.  It’s a sad day for all motorcycle enthusiasts and one to reflect on our choices.

Freedom and choice vs. safety

We’ve all heard the debate or been involved in a compelling argument on both sides of the helmet laws.  There are some motorcyclists who do, but most don’t wear a novelty helmet as a symbol of resistance “against the man” i.e. protesting lesgislators that require bikers to wear certified helmets.  Full Disclosure: I rode double digit years with a novelty helmet and even paid $2 for the DOT sticker to minimize chances of getting pulled over by law enforcement.

I don’t recall the exact moment, but I decided a few years ago that if I have to wear a helmet it might as well be one that offers some degree of protection and elected to switch to a certified helmet.   Those of you who visit this blog regularly know there are a lot of freedom of choice posts and it was MY choice to purchase a DOT certified helmet.  This may not reflect your thinking and that is your choice.

This post is about reflecting on our choices.

Clearly Mr. Barns accident was the auto drivers fault and I’m not trying to pile on to his tragedy, but it’s important to note that more than 800,000 novelty helmets are sold in the U.S. every year!   That’s about the same number of motorcycles that were registered in the state of California in 2011.

In my view, the vendor/marketers of novelty helmets are like big tobacco–unapologetic, dismissing safety concerns, squelching debate and claiming they simply are accommodating consumer demand.   Most all are made in China or India and even those Carbon Fiber/Kevlar versions are outright fakes.  Sure it’s legal to make and sell novelty helmets as long as they aren’t falsely represented as meeting federal standards, but talk about a poster-child for proliferating cheap ineffective Chinese products as motorcycle crash deaths mount.

And I’m intrigued by the contradiction… Harley-Davidson motorcyclists complain about the cheap China made Harley trinkets or 3rd party chrome parts which they want no part of, but think nothing about buying a $29 “Made In China” novelty helmet believing that ‘something is better than nothing’ regarding its protection.  But, I’ve digressed.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration agency has estimated that as many as 754 people die each year in states with mandatory helmet laws because they were wearing novelty helmets instead of certified headgear, which amounts to nearly 1 in 6 rider fatalities.

According to this study based on head trauma vs. non-head trauma deaths, head trauma deaths account for 34% of motorcyclist deaths.  Many would agree that an approved/certified safety helmet is by far more protective and would overwhelmingly prevent serious injuries as opposed to a novelty helmet, but I would also like to see a correlation and follow-up on motorcycle licensing, training and education.

I am sure there are a fair number of riders out there who won’t appreciate this blog post.  They will see my post as advocacy for the U.S. becoming a more repressed, intolerant and regimented place.  More government intervention.  Most blogs just don’t want to touch the topic.  But, novelty helmets just don’t share the same distinguishing characteristics as certified helmets.

If we’re being intellectually honest as a group/industry, its important to spotlight helmet considerations in the ongoing debate over motorcycle safety.

The Barns tragedy compelled me to urge motorcyclists to think different–if you’re going to wear a helmet, why not consider or make it a certified one?

Photo courtesy of Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

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Jakscht Taking Witness Stand

It took over 2 years, but I’m thrilled by the verdict!

Michael Jakscht, age 49 was found guilty on four counts of manslaughter.  You may remember Mr. Jakscht from a previous blog post HERE.

It was March 2010 and he was the truck driver who drove his 12 ton trash truck through a pack of eight motorcycles carrying nine people at a stop light at the intersection of 27th Avenue and Carefree Highway near I-17 in Phoenix, AZ.  Yes, I said the motorcyclists were all stopped waiting on the traffic light when Jakscht ran over the group.

It was a horrific and gruesome crash scene.  Four people were killed, and five others were injured in the accident.  Methamphetamine was found in Jakscht’s system at the time of the crash. His lawyer, however, had argued that Jakscht wasn’t under the influence at the time of the accident, and that the incident was caused by a mechanical failure in the truck.

Accident Scene – March 2010

Jakscht’s first trial took place in 2011 and it ended with a hung jury deadlocked at 9 to 3 for acquittal.  Fortunately the Maricopa County attorney’s office (Attorney Bill Montgomery) chose to retry the case, and Jakscht was recently found guilty on four counts of manslaughter and on five counts of aggravated assault, one count of endangerment imminent death, and three counts of endangerment physical injury.

Nothing can bring back the four motorcyclist who were killed, but I hope the family’s of the deceased get some satisfaction in knowing that Mr. Jakscht is being held accountable for his actions.  Sentencing is set for November 16 at 8:30am.

UPDATE: December 5,1012 – Mr. Jakscht was sentenced November 16th to 26 years in prison by Judge Joseph Welty. Under Arizona’s Truth In Sentencing Law Jakscht will do about 230 months. His release date will be late in the year 2031 or early in 2032.

Photos courtesy of ABC Channel 15 and AZFamily.com

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Apple II Ad

Steve Jobs has passed away and what we’ll find over the next couple of weeks will be planned storylines about the life of Apple’s co-founder and his time in Oregon attending Reed College.

I had an article ready to post about the letdown of the iPhone 4S launch.  Given all the hyperbolic speculation and secrecy leading up to the launch I’m not sure expectations could have ever been met, but it all just feels off. Like way off today.

I did a blog post HERE last year about Steve riding on a BMW, nostalgia and my early Apple experiences.  I have very clear recollection of Apple when living in North Dakota attending college.   For awhile I worked part-time at Team Electronics (Store #30) in Bismarck.  This was circa 1977 and I distinctly remember when the first Apple II computer showed up at the store.  In college we were learning how to write BASIC programs for an Intel 4004 CPU (4-bit).  No one knew what to do with the Apple II (8-bit), but soon enough we figured out how to spent hours playing a Star-trek game (loaded by cassette tape).

Whether you love or hate Apple–or fall somewhere in between–it’s hard not to acknowledge that Steve Jobs was a remarkable and brilliant man. He’s also a man who we don’t really know a lot about in his personal life. But he’s also a man who changed a lot of lives.  Mine included and I wanted to thank him for that today.

Wozniak and Jobs in the early days

Steve Jobs clearly loved what he did and I’ve returned several times to his 2005 Stanford commencement speech, where he said:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma–which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

I didn’t really know what my reaction would be until the moment actually came.  I’m profoundly sad today on the news of his passing.  Steve’s remarkable ability to touch every person on the planet started in Minneapolis and for me it started in 1977.  My heart goes out to his family and many friends.

Photo courtesy of Apple.

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Yesterday, President Obama returned to Portland, OR to try and fire up the Democrats or rekindle some political magic.  There was an enthusiastic crowd estimated near 10,000 which packed the convention center and listened as the president stumped for John Kitzhaber, who is locked in a tight race for his old job as governor.

Sadly, the visit occurred in the middle of rush-hour traffic and triggered an accident on I-84 when eastbound traffic slowed to watch Obama’s motorcade traveling west from the Portland Air National Guard Base.

At about 6pm, a northeast Portland man (Peter Kendall Gunderson, age 59) was eastbound when he may have failed to see traffic ahead of him was slowing as police were closing down the westbound lanes for the upcoming presidential motorcade to travel in.  Gunderson lost control as he braked for the slowing eastbound traffic.  The motorcycle skidded then fell onto its side, sliding uncontrolled in the left eastbound lane until it hit underneath a stopped 2010 Chevrolet Camaro. The motorcycle came to rest near the center concrete barrier and quickly caught fire.  Some witnesses pulled Mr. Gunderson away from the burning motorcycle to the far right eastbound lane.  Mr. Gunderson was transported by AMR ambulance to Legacy Emanuel Hospital with critical injuries, but died this morning.  The full OSP report is HERE.  It’s unclear if police had enough lead time to plan a safer route in Portland.

Peter Gunderson Accident

I did a quick search and it turns out that there are many deaths across the U.S. just so the president or a dignitary doesn’t need to sit in traffic. Many are motorcycle officers, but some are similar to Mr. Gunderson being caught up in the police route.

For example, in 2006, a Honolulu officer died when he and two other motorcycle officers crashed while part of a presidential motorcade. In 2007, a police officer died after crashing his motorcycle while riding in a motorcade with President Bush.  In 2008, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s only campaign swing through North Texas was cut short after a police officer in her motorcade died in a crash on the way to a rally.  Also in 2008, an Albuquerque, N.M., police officer in President Bush’s motorcade died in a motorcycle crash.

I’m not blaming Obama – just pointing out that presidential motorcades aren’t safe for everyone!  My condolences to Mr. Gunderson’s family.

No word if President Obama or anyone in his administration has tried to reach out to Mr. Gunderson’s family.

Photo courtesy of Oregonian and OSP.

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The Culbertson Guidon -- Custer's Last Stand

Last Friday marked the 134th anniversary of the battle.

I’m talking about The Battle of the Little Bighorn, also known as Custer’s Last Stand.  It claimed, 263 soldiers, including Lt. Col. George A. Custer and attached personnel of the U.S. Army, who died fighting several thousand Lakota, and Cheyenne warriors led by Sitting Bull.  They fought for their land near what’s now Crow Agency, MT when the government tried to drive the Indians off the land after white settlers discovered gold there. The Black Hills in southeastern Montana (present day South Dakota) were declared Indian land in the late 1860s.

A single swallowtail flag – or Guidon – is one of the few artifacts found from the battle.  Guidons served as battlefield beacons marking company positions.  The victorious Indians stripped the corpses of trophies, but missed the bloodstained flag, which was hidden under the body of a soldier.  The Culbertson Guidon as it’s called was recovered by Sergeant Ferdinand Culbertson, a member of a burial party.  It was sold for $54 in 1895 to the Detroit Institute of Arts who has now decided to sell it and use the proceeds to build its collection. The flag has been valued at $2 million to $5 million and will be auctioned sometime in October by Sotheby’s.

If you’re headed to the Sturgis Rally then the battlefield is a must see stop.  It’s at the junction of I-90 and Hwy 212 and today the Little Bighorn National Monument offers up a wide range of activities and interpretive opportunities. I was there about 3 years ago and blogged about HERE.  The Forest Rangers provide talks about the battle and there are a number of related items presented in the Visitor Center.  I remember most an obelisk which commemorates the U.S. Army dead, and marks the spot of the mass grave where all U.S. soldiers were re-buried.

Tribal Sites: Crow TribeArikara TribeSioux TribesCheyenne Tribehttp://www.c-a-tribes.org/

Photo of flag courtesy of Sotheby’s.

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Michael Jakscht

Two weeks ago a news flash zipped across my iMac screen about eight Phoenix-based motorcycle riders involved in an accident with a sanitation truck. Knowing that in about a month I planned to be riding in the same area of Arizona, the accident caught my attention.

If you’re unaware of the incident; on Thursday, March 25th a group of motorcyclists who were taking advantage of the nice weather, were literally run down by a Blue Sky Sanitation truck driven by Michael Jakscht, 46.  The truck ran into the group of motorcyclists on Carefree Highway who were stopped at a stoplight, killing four of them and injuring five others.  Photos from the scene are disturbing due to some motorcycles bursting into flames under the truck while others scattered flaming wreckage across the intersection.

Sure it’s true that motorcycles can’t be made as objectively safe (crush zones, front and side air bags, etc.) as cars—however, no motorist (in a car or on a motorcycle) expects to be run down while sitting idle at a stop light!  Blue Sky Sanitation is a very small, limited liability company headquartered in Fountain Hills, AZ which employs about four people.  At the time of the accident witnesses reported that there were no outwardly signs the truck driver being impaired.  In fact, one witnessed stated that the driver commented how he was distracted doing paperwork.  Within hours it was reported that Mr. Jakscht had a string of prior speeding and over-weight traffic violations.

Blue Sky Sanitation Truck

But, there is even more to the story.  On April 6th police arrested Mr. Jakscht on suspicion of being under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the crash, and booked him on four counts of manslaughter, five counts of aggravated assault and seven counts of endangerment. According to police, the initial toxicology tests on blood drawn from Mr. Jakscht on the day of the crash show he had the illegal drug methamphetamine in his system.  He is currently being held in the 4th Avenue jail on a $1M bond and his initial hearing is set for April 13th.

Motorcyclists who died as a result of the crash were Daniel Butler, 35; Clyde Nachand, 67; Stephen Punch, 52; and Dale Downs-Totonchi, 47.  Phoenix Fire Capt. Ernie Lizarraga, 52, who was part of the riding group remains hospitalized suffering from injuries sustained in the crash.  In addition, Jason Anania, 48, is recovering at home from a shattered leg and bruised back.

When people get behind the wheel of a vehicle, they take on a responsibility to ensure their action does not put other people in danger.  So we have a “tweeked” truck driver who ignored his responsibility and innocent motorcyclists were in my view murdered.  The families of those victims can and will likely file a wrongful death lawsuit, but I’m sure Blue Sky Sanitation and Mr. Jakscht will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid accepting responsibility.  While it’s how our litigious society works I do hope these people are brought to justice.

The death of a family member in an accident like this has to be a horrible experience.  I want to express my heartfelt condolences to the families and hope for a full recovery of those injured.

Additional news reports HERE, and video coverage by ABC HERE.  I’ve previously written about “trucker bombs” HERE.

Photo’s courtesy of Associated Press/NPR and ABC.

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