The Langley Roadriders were the first group to arrive on the scene of a motorcycle accident which occurred a few minutes before our arrival. A group of 4 Harley Davidsons along with their passengers were making their way north along Mosquito Lake road with the first two bikes safely negotiating the turn. The posted speed was about 35 mph with a suggested speed of 25 mph around the turn. The rider and passenger on bike number 3 crossed the lane and hit the guard rail, ejecting both of them down a steep embankment. The Bellingham Herald suggested speed as the contributing factor which it certainly was. Gerry, the main rider, age 62 was a grizzled biker with certainly a lot of experience under his belt and being a popular road with motorcyclists must have traveled this stretch of road often. I can’t imagine that “target fixation” must have also been a contributing factor. Having crossed the double line and with the rapid approach of the guardrail, was he preoccupied with the guardrail instead of looking ahead and around the corner? The video below describes the scene which we came upon.
When we arrived at the scene the LRRMC immediately secured the site, warning oncoming traffic in both directions to slow down. I looked down the embankment and began communicating with an uninjured biker who was attending to Gerry. With no cell phone service available to us, Both George and Grant headed to the nearest house with a land line. After advising them that help was on its way, I turned my bike around and made it to a gravel road that was likely the best way to access the injured party. Unfortunately, a locked gate prevented me from getting close to the scene and I had to walk a couple of hundred meters to the base of the hill. Overgrowth and fallen logs made the trek up the hill difficult, but I was finally able to reach their location within a few minutes. Having reached Gerry and his friend, I could see that Gerry was in serious condition. His lower left leg was broken, he complained about his back, shortness of breath and was in need of medication. He refused to lie on his back and couldn’t straighten out his left leg as any movement would send him in agony. “I’m really fucked up” he said. I brought along a small first aid kit, but there was no way it was designed to handle the trauma that he had undergone. We kept Gerry talking to keep him focused and conscience but I could his friend was concerned about keeping other news about his passenger from him. Fortunately, within 10 minutes after my arrival, I could hear the fire and rescue trucks arriving on the scene, and shortly after, the first responders arrived on the scene. With the Paramedics arriving, I decided to get out of their way and make it up towards the road. A couple of extending hands made my last stretch of the climb a lot easier. After catching my breath, I had discovered that Gerry’s passenger had died on the scene even though one of the riders had administered CPR. I returned to my bike on the gravel road and was met with one of Whatcom’s County’s Sheriffs who requested me to remain at the scene to complete a witness statement. With this completed, I made my way through the gauntlet of fire trucks, ambulances and police vehicles where I rejoined to group some 20 km further down the route. Because of the sombre mood, everyone agreed to shorten the route and make our way home.
I just recently attended the Advanced Rider Training Course with Sgt. Ryan Austin. Target fixation was discussed at length. Ryan has been on the scene of many motorcycle accidents and is an expert in accident reconstruction. He looks beyond the obvious reasons including speed, alcohol and target fixation is regularly a contributing factor. Some scenes illustrate that the rider should not have had a problem negotiating a turn but instead was fixated on a tree, guardrail, car or other types of distractions and could not stay clear of that hazard. Rider training will help in avoiding these kinds of mistakes, but practise and muscle memory are the keys to staying safe and alive. So please consider attending an advanced rider training course and practise good motorcycle riding habits so that you can greet your loved ones at the end of each ride.