Derek, STOC 001, the long story, By George Catt, STOC 004
I also have a son (Adam) who rides an ST. He'll
read this here, too.
If he's the only one, I'll be happy.
I know many of you have heard this before. Can't hurt to refresh, tho.
We all need to pay more attention, ride like we're invisible, and keep
our collective heads up.
May 27, 1994
Derek was south bound on a local 2-lane near Seneca, S.C. He had just
left an HSTA dinner at the next town north. He passed all the others
as they left the restaurant, in a hurry to hook up with another buddy
who had arrived late.
Sun was setting, not quite dark. Don't know if that was a factor. Car
pulled out of a side street from his right, also headed south. Looks
like he pulled out to pass her as she made an immediate left into the
unmarked left hand T intersection. He was beside her, hit her front
left quarter and wheel, put him over an embankment and down into a
gully about 30 feet. He landed on his back, his head hit a concrete
culvert hard. Ruptured spleen and other internal injuries. First
person on the scene was a surgical nurse and EMT was there quickly. No
Driver was cited for failure to yield, said she never saw him. It was
dark enuff that his lights should'a showed up easily. Guess it didn't
happen. S.C. HP said Derek did nothing wrong but he was probably over
the speed limit. When she pulled out, he went left to go around her
and she turned left into him. Derek was in the wrong in that he was
over the double yellow, but the cop says she pulled out, probably
without a full stop and forced him to go left, then turned left into
him. There were was a sign showing the T intersection from the right
but none showing the T intersection from the left. There is now (after
the second fatality less than a year later.)
He may have just thought he could pass with no problem, or she may
really have forced him into the left lane when she pulled out. Either
way, the crash occurred. He actually went over the side from the edge
of the side road, around the east end of the Armco barrier that lines
the main road. The bike stayed on the ground all the way down, as
shown by the tracks. Don't know if he was still on it at that point.
The bike bounced so hard at the bottom that it end-oed, going upside
down, back wheel first between two trees. We found his radio,
previously stored in the tail piece, hanging about 6 feet up in the
limbs. Plastic explosion sent shards in all directions.
So, what can yur son (and many others) learn from this. Basically, one
thing: SLOW DOWN!! Derek had an admitted "Need For Speed." He was
prolly well over the posted 55, on an unknown road, in a basically
residential area. He didn't anticipate a problem, still suffering from
the delusion of youth: invincibility. The driver was suffering from
familiarity, myopia, and the typical BDI syndrome we all know so well.
She was probably concentrating on her shopping list, looking south to
see that no traffic was gonna slow her progress on to the east bound
side street, and didn't even glance left as she pulled out of her side
street. Whatever, the combination of youthful exuberance and
middle-age myopia resulted in this tragedy.
My thought on the whole thing is that both contributed to the final
result. The state was also at fault for not adequately marking the
intersection. The driver was in her element and expected nothing
unusual. Derek was in his element and _should have_ expected the
unexpected. That's the big lesson to be learned.
Here's the bottom line: education comes in four levels:
1. Awareness - ya know something exists (in this case, danger.)
2. Knowledge - ya know about the intricacies of that something (danger
can kill ya!)
3. Transfer - ya know _why_ this knowledge is important to ya. Yu'll
never get good at anything unless you can make that transfer.
Knowledge is never enuff cause it doesn't raise any passion. Transfer
is where the figurative light bulb comes on.
4. Practice, practice, practice - this is where ya take yur knowledge
and use it to get good, better, best.
Important to note, too, that learning never stops. Transfer and
practice leads to more awareness and more knowledge. Never ending
loop. Wisdom comes with experience. Unfortunately, experience usually
comes from lack of wisdom. Use the mistakes of others to learn
instead'a graduating from the school of hard knocks.
I've read, many years ago, that motocyclists with over 100,000 miles
experience are among the 1%ile best and safest drivers on the roads.
They have proved their "survivability." Usually, that experience comes
over several years. In Derek's case, he had just made 100,000 miles,
but in only 3 years. Worst thing, to me, about his experience is his
previous serious accident, he didn't "learn" his lesson. He was
rear-ended about 2 years earlier, totaled his bike, threw him about 30
feet into the ditch. He walked away without a scratch. His
"invincibility" shield actually got a boost from that one. So, tho he
had the necessary awareness and knowledge, he had not made that
absolutely necessary transfer to WHY is it important.
All youse guys and gals reading this, please take his mistake and use
it to make that all important leap: ya can't see where yur going with
yur head up yur butt.
Here's a set of pics. Take a close notice of the wrecked bike. Imagine
what that kind of force can do to the human body. ATGATT (all the
gear, all the time) can only help so much. (link no longer functioning)
Have yur young and new riders read this and look at the pics. Make'em
take the MSF basic and Advanced Rider courses. Get'em to do a track
day and maybe a Keith Code School. Ride with'em and tell'em what
__you_ think they're doing wrong. And ask them their opinion, too,
about all kinds of stuff. Ya might learn sumpin'.
George - STOC 004
in Kingman, Arizona
Return to Motorcycle links page.