Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘motorcycle accidents’

MC (right) at Laughlin River Run 2014 with Shark Week III Crew

MC (center) at Laughlin River Run 2014 with members from the Shark Week III Crew

According to this recently published survey, Utah has the second best drivers in the country.  Using statistics primarily from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the compiled results scored every state on the quality of their drivers.

It is apparent to me that whoever conducted that study has never driven in St. George, Utah and they never talked to MC.

Who is MC?

Just a motorcycle enthusiast, from Oregon, who on July 31, 2013 was part of a multi-state group riding through the area attending the Shark Week III motorcycle rally. He had split from the group early that morning and was heading home to attend a friends wedding ceremony.  It was around 7:30 a.m., as he traveled northbound on Bluff Street through the Red Cliffs Parkway intersection.  While doing so, there was a left turn yellow light and he was initially cut off by a southbound car making a left turn toward Red Hills Parkway. The  first car missed MC before he was hit in the side by a second car also making a left turn on a yellow/red light.  (Note: This intersection is now under construction and will have a flyover to help prevent accidents!)

Bluff Street will now pass over Red Hills Parkway

Bluff Street will now pass over Red Hills Parkway

Although MC was wearing full protective gear, he had head trauma and the impact left MC with significant injuries to his left leg.  It’s St. George county protocol for trauma patients to be flown directly to University Medical Center in Las Vegas as a matter of course, but MC’s blood loss was so severe due to multiple open fractures, the onsite EMT decision was made to fly him to Dixie Regional Medical Center.  You can read the local newspaper report HERE.  Previous blog posts related to this incident is HERE.

The Sheriff who was on the accident scene (MC was lucid enough to give his cell phone to the officer and had him call) called us and we arrived at the accident within 15 minutes and prior to the life flight landing on scene.  Perhaps an ambulance ride directly to Dixie Regional Medical Center should have occurred, but I won’t second guess or revisit the sequence of events.  In fact, Dixie Regional Medical Center created a recovery video testimonial HERE.

There is an old biker adage that many of you have heard before.  “There are those who have been down and those who are going down.”  It’s often described almost as a self-fulfilling prophecy—a mental process whereby an individual subconsciously creates the belief in the inevitability of that event.  The point is, I don’t buy into it and don’t think of accidents as a right of passage to be a motorcycle enthusiast.  I’ve certainly dumped a dirt bike more times than I care to admit, but I never viewed it as inevitable or part of the hobby—I just made some poor choices.

MC

MC at Bryce Canyon, Utah – 2013

Like many things in life there are inherent dangers with motorcycling.  Risk is part of the package.  An accident can have all sorts of negative repercussions.  And any accident that involves someone you know or is a good riding buddy only amplifies the situation.   From a psychological perspective it wouldn’t be unreasonable for the entire riding group to weigh the risks and rewards of riding and question why do it.  But, I’ve digressed.

The EMT’s put MC on life flight and we helped clear the wreckage from the Red Cliffs Parkway intersection.  The underinsured driver was cited for failure to yield to oncoming traffic and attempting to beat a red light while not paying attention to the rest of the traffic in an intersection.  The male driver was in his girlfriend’s well-used Honda.  Clearly the vehicle driver penalties in the state of Utah are not proportional to the suffering inflicted onto MC.

MC was in St. George’s Dixie Regional Medical Center for exactly 12 weeks and underwent 12 surgeries before being transported home to Oregon.  In Oregon there were more doctors, more surgeries, more physical therapy and mountains of medical forms.

Five months after the crash, MC reached the point where a fixator was removed from his foot.  And a few months later, May 2014, he underwent his 15th surgery—”de-bulking”—to remove the surplus transplanted muscle tissue from around his ankle.  There’s been a lot written on his path to recovery HERE (warning – graphic images).  The scope of this life-changing accident has been very challenging, but through it all MC remained mostly positive with the help of friends and family. There was also significant outreach from the motorcycle riding community especially the Shark Week III crew who deserves a big shout-out!

Today, a year later,  MC is mobile and self-sufficient.  For the most part, life is returning to a more normal pattern.  Those of us who know him, know that the year has been one of the hardest in MC’s life.  The medical decisions, the money worries and trying to smile every day and be grateful didn’t come easy.  It’s unclear if MC’s best motorcycle riding days are yet to come or if the risk-reward ratio tipped somewhere along the line.  Only he can answer that question.  In reality, it is possible for a motorcyclist to never go down. Ask around. You’ll be surprised how many motorcyclists have never actually been in an accident. Oh sure, they’ve had scary moments, war stories even. But, most have never been down in any kind of a serious way.

The dog days of summer are upon us, and I believe all MC really needs to think about is how much body hair does a guy have to remove from your face before golfing.

This blog post is to mark the 1-year anniversary and to provide a quick shout-out to all the folks who for the last 12 months provided prayers and positive vibes.  You’ve been awesome and we’re all grateful that MC is doing so well!

Photo’s taken by author and courtesy of MC.  Road map courtesy of UDOT.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

MC enjoying the fall weather at home!

MC enjoying the fall weather!

12 surgeries, 12 weeks in the hospital, 12 separate medical billing groups….  12-noon, at home enjoying the fall colors – priceless!

You might recall that back on July 31st (HERE) while attending the Shark Week III rally we learned that a member of our riding group (MC) was hit by a car who was trying to beat a red-light at the Bluff Street-Red Hills Parkway intersection.  This was about 3 miles from the rally hotel. We arrived on scene to see the paramedics working on MC and prepping him for Life Flight.  Once the helicopter took off we helped clear debris, gathered up some personal belongings and then rode to the hospital.

MC spent 4 weeks at Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George, UT in critical care and acute therapy.  There was a continuous debate about how to save the foot.  He was then transported to Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland where he spent another 8 weeks enduring various forms of surgeries in an effort to avoid amputation of his foot.

At home and something to smile about...

At home–something to truly smile about…

The awesome news is that MC was discharged from Legacy Emanuel hospital on October 23, 2013.  Exactly 12 weeks from the date of the accident in St. George.  And, it was a gorgeous northwest day for MC to absorb the fall beauty and take a deep breath of fresh air— the first time in 6 weeks that MC was able to go outside!  He has endure more than most all of us will ever know in an effort to save his foot.  You’re an inspiration MC!!

There are numerous new challenges and MC is working through each of them (finances, crutches, stairs, showering, etc.) now that the hospital chapter of his journey is mainly closed.  MC’s significant other continues to provide engaging and detailed status updates on her blog and a Facebook page was created for extended friends and interested individuals to follow progress.

Being home is an incredible boost to the human spirit, but it’s not the end of MC’s recovery.  There will be another 12 weeks before he can truly put his entire foot “in the dirt” and before that it will require another surgery to remove that bulky frame on his foot along with physical therapy.

However, I wanted to provide a quick shout-out to all the folks who for the last 12+ weeks provided prayers and positive vibes.  You’ve all been awesome and I want to personally thank you for your kind outreach.

Photo’s courtesy of S.B.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Starting in 1994 with only 1,500 bikers participating, Street Vibrations has grown into the nation’s 6th largest bike event.  It was estimated (no info supplied on how) that slightly more than 25,000 motorcycles attended Street Vibrations in 2010.  About the same as previous years, however, hotels like the Peppermill, Grand Sierra Resort, the Nugget and Atlantis all reported shorter stays for guests on average vs. other years.

During the event period there was an increase in motorcycle accidents.  It’s unclear if the increase was attributable to the split-event in Sparks which many riders complained about.  Here is how the stats break down:

Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP) arrested 39 people of which 21 were DUI arrests.  There were 15 accidents investigated, which included 2 fatal crashes, including one with a motorcycle.  In total there were 8 injury crashes and 5 crashes involving property damage only.  NHP didn’t report which arrests involved only motorcycles.

Reno Police reported making 72 arrests for various offenses stating alcohol was a factor in most.  They handed out 533 traffic citations and placed 4 people in civil protective custody (public intoxication).  They also handed out an additional 428 traffic warnings.  There were 6 stolen motorcycles (which the Pepper Mill Casino seemed to be hit most often) and 10 stolen tour packs (saddle bags).

Stealing saddle bags? That is just down-right mean! I hope they set up sting operations in the future to take down the jerks.

In addition, there was a brawl reported between 30 people (unknown if it was bikers?) that left one man stabbed in Sparks and was sent to the hospital.  The Carson City man was treated with multiple stab wounds which were non-life threatening.

Speaking of large groups… it’s unclear if related to last month’s HAMC and Vagos MC shootout in Arizona (Chino Valley, north of Prescott) where 27 people were booked on charges ranging from attempted murder to participation in a criminal street gang and where more than 50 rounds were fired between the two clubs… but, there was an extraordinarily large mass of the “Green Machine”, and the “Red & White” along with support clubs like the “Miscreants” on the corner of 4th and Virginia Street on Saturday.  I was on the street at the time and the atmosphere was most tense, it looked as if a confrontation would explode similar to scene’s from the problem-oriented “Hot August Nights” event.  Even the few LEO’s looked somewhat threatened.  Fortunately no confrontation occurred and within a half-hour the groups had mostly cleared out.

And speaking of the Reno police, they worked a lot of overtime and were paid based on a grant called “Joining Forces”.  The “Joining Forces” grant program is one of the many Nevada Office of Traffic Safety’s proactive safety initiatives coordinated directly with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to provide grant funding for special enforcement campaigns, education, equipment and training throughout the calendar year.  There are currently 28 law enforcement agencies in Nevada that participate in this program. Some of those enforcement campaigns include DUI saturation patrols and checkpoints, speed enforcement, traffic signal enforcement at identified high-accident intersections, and crosswalk & pedestrian safety enforcement initiatives.

Lastly, is my rant about the fact that Nevada has over 49,000 miles of road and nothing is more treacherous than the I-80 and U.S. 395 interchange (known by locals as the “Spaghetti Bowl”) in downtown Reno.  Motorcyclists have seen at least 2 years of congested traffic flow from this construction project, but more important is trying to navigate through or ride over and avoid the deep crevices and cracks in the concrete.  It’s dangerous for motorcycles and get it done already!

Stat sources: Daily Sparks Tribune #1#2News 4Carson Now.

Photo’s taken at the event.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

DistractedAll motorcycle riders are responsible for the safe operation of their vehicle on public roads and highways.

For that matter all road users — car drivers, truck drivers and even bicyclists share this responsibility.  Yet, distracted or inattentive driving has become a major issue for both motorcyclists and automobile operators.  Far too many incidents have been documented where motorcyclists were injured or killed as the result of inattentive driving.   In addition, automobile drivers engaged in distracted driving behavior are extremely dangerous to motorcyclists having deadly results.

Meanwhile we learn that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) withheld distracted-driver data to avoid angering Congress.  And how about this…ever pass a semi driver who was on the phone?  I have.  A new study conducted by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute reports that when long haul truck drivers texted, their collision risk was 23 times greater than when not texting.  Thirty-six states do not ban texting while driving!

Below is a summary of Oregon motorcycle accidents and questionable riding judgment/behavior for June – August 20, 2009.  I truly dislike researching and aggregating this type of information.  As a result, I’ve added direct links to the police accident flash report and state police PR activity on the right side under “Latest News” link and you can directly access the data if you have interest.  I’m not going to summarize accident reports going forward… they creep me out.

08-13-2009 – Washington County Sheriff And CART Respond To Fatal Motorcycle Crash — KENNETH DAWKINS, age 36, from Tigard died when his motorcycle collided with a guard rail on Southwest Scoggins Valley Road near Henry Hagg Lake.  Another motorcyclists, VIACHESLAV KOSTYUSHKO, age 21, from Milwaukee, sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was discharged from the hospital. More info on a previous post HERE.

08-13-2009 – Sheriff’s Office Responds To Motorcycle Crash (No Link) — The driver of a 2006 Harley-Davidson, MARK STRAND, age 49, from Salem was eastbound on Hazelgreen Road NE.  Came around the corner near 75th Ave NE and went off the road into the ditch.  STRAND was life flight to Legacy Emanual Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

08-07-2009 – Double Fatal Traffic Crash – Highway 20 east of Albany — A 1999 Saturn 4-door, operated by MICHELLE IRMA ELDRIDGE, age 46, from Lebanon, was westbound on Highway 20 near milepost 9. The Saturn began to pass a vehicle and collided head-on with an eastbound 2006 Harley Davidson motorcycle. Both Eldridge and the operator of the motorcycle, RICK DALE STEPHENSON, age 50, of Kelso, WA, were deceased at the scene.

08-01-2009 – Fatal Traffic Crash – Highway 22 west of Santiam Pass — A Harley Davidson motorcycle operated by TERRY MELTON, age 46, from Salem, was eastbound on Highway 22 near milepost 70 with his wife, VIRGINIA MELTON, age 53, as a passenger. Preliminary information indicates the operator noticed his wife slumping behind him and tried to hold on to her to keep her from falling off the motorcycle. Despite his attempt to keep her on, she fell off onto the highway. After the passenger fell off, the operator lost control and laid the motorcycle on its side and slid an unknown distance on the highway.

07-27-2009 – 130 MPH Motorcyclist Arrested east of The Dalles — The operator, identified as WILLIAM A. NISWANGER, age 31, from Sandy, told the trooper that he knew that he was driving too fast but was trying to get his female passenger to a 8:30 a.m. court appointment in Bend.  It was 8:16am.  NISWANGER had five outstanding warrants for his arrest. The warrants were all based on prior traffic offenses.

07-15-2009 – Video Released of Motorcyclist Crashing Next to OSP Trooper Reminder to Slow Down and Pay Attention — An Oregon State Police (OSP) in-car video of an incident that happened June 18th is being released after a motorcycle operator pled guilty to Careless Driving when he lost control and separated from his motorcycle. The in-car video caught the sliding motorcycle and rolling operator as both passed the trooper’s stopped patrol car along Interstate 84 in The Dalles.

07-06-2009 – Fatal Motorcycle Crash – Highway 126E near Belknap Springs — 2002 Harley Davidson operated by ANN MARIE POOLE, age 50, from Ravensdale, Washington was eastbound on Highway 126E near milepost 11 following her husband who was operating a second motorcycle.  For an unknown reason while negotiating a slight right curve, the motorcycle crossed the center line and crashed into a guardrail.

07-05-2009 – Fatal Motorcycle Crash – Interstate 84 west of Ontario — 2005 Suzuki motorcycle operated by STEVE HOLVEY, age 57, from Baker City, was eastbound on Interstate 84 near milepost 356.  For an unknown reason, the motorcycle was negotiating a left curve and drove off the right side of the freeway onto the gravel shoulder.

07-04-2009 – 122 MPH Motorcyclist Arrested Following Attempt to Elude in Southeast Portland — 2007 Suzuki SX7 motorcycle southbound on Interstate 205 near Powell Boulevard and obtained a speed reading on radar of 122 mph in a 55 mph speed zone.  RYAN ROBERT DOWLEY, age 20, from southeast Portland, was taken into custody for Felony Attempt to Elude Police on a Vehicle and Reckless Driving.

06-16-2009 – OSP Cites 103 MPH Driver on Highway 26 west of Madras — 1997 gray Suzuki traveling West on Hwy 26, 10 miles east of Madras, for traveling at 103 mph in a posted 55 mph zone. The driver was 20 year old TRAVIS SPRENGEL of Madras.

06-01-2009 – OSP Cites 130 MPH Driver on Highway 18 west of McMinnville — 2006 Kawasaki motorcycle accelerated toward northbound Interstate 5 and the trooper was able to obtain a speed reading of 110 mph while it was in a curve merging onto the freeway from Kruse Way. The motorcycle was stopped near milepost 295 and its operator, TODD A. MARSH, age 46, from McMinnville, was cited for Exceeding the Posted Speed Limit in Excess of 100 mph.

Photo courtesy of Alan927.com.  Rider in photo is a professional on a closed course.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Butt Rider Award

Butt Rider Award

Before the final rider had packed up the saddlebags and rumbled out of Hells Canyon a couple weeks ago the local press were reporting on the arrests and accident stats.

Fortunately there were no fatalities, but several riders were severely injured and a few have a long recovery ahead of them.  I hope for the best!

As background, there were about 5,000 riders who converged on the surrounding area of Baker City.  I’ve already reported how there were widespread thunderstorms with heavy rain alternated with sunshine throughout the weekend.  There were two rally-related arrests which resulted from an intoxicated rider trying to move his motorcycle from the street lineup and crashed into 3 other motorcycles.  Yeah, that would aggravate me too!  George Twardus (Portland) was arrested for drunk driving.  Compounding that situation was one of his new friends from Baker City who decided to sneak off with the motorcycle and was arrested for unlawful use of a motorcycle and tampering with evidence. According to the reports police showed significant restraint as the riding group with Mr. Tawardus were acting out and expressing their freedom of speech.  I have dedicated a “Butt Rider” award to them!  In addition, there were a couple of other local residents arrested over the weekend for fighting outside a bar, but it was described by Police Chief Lohner as just part of a typical Saturday night in Baker City, and had nothing to do with the rally.

Baker City had 13 calls related to the rally, including eight motorcycle crashes.  The weather likely contributed to some of the motorcycle crashes, but rider skills certainly had a part too.  Four of the injured were flown out either by helicopter or plane.  In addition, there were a couple of motorcycle accidents reported in the Richland area including the hit and run accident with Rick Meigs which I reported on previously.  It turns out that this year’s rally was comparable to the number of accidents in 2007, but much worse than 2008.

And speaking of “Butt Rider” awards… as a visitor to eastern Oregon, I have a couple observations to pass along:

  1. Uninvited Guests — If a group of 4-6 riders are clearly in a group together then other riders not part of that group shouldn’t cut in to ride as if you’ve found your long lost riding buddies.  Often without warning we saw people dart/cut into our group vs. go on around – even with plenty of passing space.  Sure some riders were looking to pass and wanted to make sure there was clearance, but others cut in and behaved as if they planned to join the group?!  I know the skills of our riding group, but I wouldn’t know if the “cutter” has been riding motorcycles for 30 years, or 13 minutes — who knows and that concerns me.  I’m more than okay in sharing the roadways, but there was some stupidity being displayed and on several occasions we were forced to brake heavy to make way.
  2. Secret Motorcycle Wave — To me it is amazing to see folks waving or trying to wave at all the fellow riders when there is a big rally in an area.  And I’m not talking about the two-finger flip or the helmet nod, but the left hand high in the air “Hi Mom, I’m so excited to be out here and one of the gang” type waves!  Great way to avoid accidents on wet S-curves with 100’s of participants on the road.  Not!
  3. Hunting Season – is it me or is it you?  It must have been the time of year as I observed several riders (namely Idaho plates) displaying holstered firearms for all to see.  Sure, Oregon has a rich hunting heritage, but packing “heat” at a motorcycle rally should not be encouraged and certainly does nothing to promote conversation or relationship building.  I’m not anti-gun and own firearms like many of you.  I treat all firearms as if they are loaded and these guys were twitchy.  I don’t know these characters or what the potential target was and felt as though I should put on a blaze orange vest so as to not be confused with any live animal!

I’m of the viewpoint that a motorcycle rally has a couple of purposes beyond vendor booths and the camaraderie of enjoying wind in your face with friends  I’m sure there are others, but one is to raise awareness with the general public, that they are sharing the roadways with motorcycles.  Another might be to promote motorcycle safe riding practices and that as a large loosely aligned group of motorcycle enthusiasts, we can and are well behaved.  Some more than others I suppose…

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

HellsCanyonOR_mapAfter what seemed like an endless night of chatting voices and the occasional AC/DC rocking through the school ground all was quiet and I settled into the two-man tent and mummy style sleeping bag.  With the rain showers and 45 degree temperatures everything was slimed with dew even with a rain fly.

I know my way around the outdoors, but I’m in no way a boy scout or survivalist camper.  Motorcycle camping is much more comparable to bicycle camping than car camping due to the limited storage capacity.  Often the same equipment as backpackers is used because of lighter weights and compact dimensions associated with the backpacking equipment.  I had one saddle bag allocated to tent, rain fly, mat, sleeping bag, torso air-mat, mini-chair and compression pillow.  The magic is called stuff sacks!

HalfwayMy plan was to be just comfortable enough and since I had previously purchased most of the items for other activities it wouldn’t be expensive to pull together this camping gig. I wasn’t traversing Mt. Everest, or hiking the 3 Sisters Trail and food/stove/cookware were left at home because in my simple world… coffee and food was picked up along the way. Because in the Northwest it tends to rain, a good tent is important. A sleeping bag that is comfortable below freezing is important too. However, the mummy bag was like a restraint.  I kept thinking would a sleeping bag that weighs 2 pounds vs. 3 really have mattered?  No!  Space was the key and I could have fit a square bag.  The old school Therm-a-rest air pad provided some comfort, but not nearly as cushy as the oversized Outdoor Research thick air mats.  The good news is that in today’s compression sack world everything is about twice as small as a few years ago.

Rick Meigs Accident

Rick Meigs Accident

Note to Steve and the HCMR planners… make sure next year there is coffee in the high school gym.  They could have paid for 3 teachers salary had they set up a coffee stand even with 3-day old donuts from Safeway!  Nothing worse than a karaoke hangover and no coffee for miles!  Okay enough on the camping adventure.

We broke camp, re-packed the bikes (interestingly after everything gets wet it doesn’t compress as well – go figure!) and headed toward the McCafe’ and official event booths at the Best Western.  Our plan was a casual ride on the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway and overnight in LaGrande.  The ride follows Hwy 86 a national designated scenic byway. The route circles the Wallowa Mountains by way of Halfway and Joseph then north through the small towns of Enterprise, Lostine, and Wallowa.  There were thousands of curves and plenty of motorcycle traffic.

Hells Canyon Lookout

Hells Canyon Lookout

Between Hole-in-the-Wall-Slide and Richland there were two motorcycle accidents within a quarter mile of each other.  Neither of them related, but both made everyone take a moment of pause.  The first was a lady that failed to negotiate a curve and rode off the road and down into the ditch.  Not life threatening, but she was taken away by ambulance.  The second and much more serious was Rick Meigs getting clipped by a vehicle that “crossed the center line.”  It was a hit and run. He was taken by ambulance to Baker City where they performed emergency surgery to stabilize him then he was flown by Life Flight to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise Idaho, where he is now, in critical condition. I don’t know Rick and researched this accident on the web after coming up on the scene.  Nonetheless, send your prayers and/or follow updates on his progress HERE.

"Posse" at Hells Canyon Lookout

"Posse" at Hells Canyon Lookout

Beyond Halfway, the road becomes a paved Forest Service stretch as it climbs over a pass toward Joseph. This road has a lot of switchbacks and ‘over-the-cliff’ moments so you’ll want to be most alert through the area.  We took a break at the Hells Canyon Overlook, but was unable to pick out the Seven Devils on the horizon due to the approaching rain storm.  Within 15 minutes there was solid rain so, we moved on and continue toward Joseph in full rain gear.  It was wet and slow going in the canyons.  The big corner preceding Joseph is one of those turns you typically never forget as The Wallowas come into view behind Joseph like a movie scene out of the Swiss Alps.  We stopped for lunch and to dry out a bit.  After Joseph there is a great stretch of motorcycle road through the Wallowa Valley and the mountain towns of Enterprise, Lostine, and Wallowa. We finish the loop on I-84 in La Grande, Or., as the Historic Baker City bars were no longer calling our name.  Neither were the tents!  We checked into a motel and proceeded directly to the hot tub to warm up.

Hells Canyon Rally Wrap Up – Day 1 HERE and Day 3 HERE.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: