Many thanks to Attorney Jim Carroll of Athen, PA, a good friend and confidante of the Ziff Law Firm, for bringing to everyone’s attention a sad, sad situation which occurred in Nicholson Township, Wyoming County, Pennsylvania on Monday, August 24, 2009. Jim’s blog post can be found here.
As reported by the Towanda Daily Review, this single motorcycle crash resulted in the death of Randall Maxwell and Susan Homet Monday evening when the 2006 Yamaha Road Star motorcycle operated by Maxwell failed to negotiate a right hand turn while traveling southbound on State Route 107 in Nicholson. The motorcycle left the roadway and contacted a guard rail. Both Maxwell and Homet, who was a passenger on the motorcycle, were pronounced dead at the scene.
Sadly, the story does not end there. Pennsylvania State Police report that both Maxwell and Homet were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash. Additionally, neither Maxwell nor Homet were wearing a helmet.
As I have written many times, motorcycles and alcohol NEVER mix. The margin for error on a motorcycle is so small that anything that blunts an operator’s senses should be avoided at all costs. I am not preaching against alcohol, but if you are going to ride, drink soda. If you are going to drink, call a cab. As we see too often, mixing alcohol and motorcycles ends in tragedies like this one.
As the story relates, neither Maxwell nor Homet was wearing a helmet at the time of the collision. In Pennsylvania, state law does not currently require bikers to wear helmets as New York does. It is unknown whether helmets would have saved their lives, but it is undoubtedly safer to ride with a helmet than without. I have handled many, many motorcycle cases, and it is a rare case where there is no damage to the helmet. The vast majority of the time, the helmet is scratched and scraped from contact with the road, or outright crushed by contact with another vehicle or other hard object. This is damage which would have been borne by the biker’s head if not protected by a helmet. Your brain is the one thing no doctor can put back together. It should be protected accordingly.
The increase in bikes on the road, spurred by increased gas prices as well as the general popularity of motorcycles, has resulted in a significant increase in the number of motorcycle accident cases I see. Unfortunately, the biking community holds a lot of misconceptions about motorcycles, and the rules that pertain to them.
Thanks for reading!
ZiffLaw Attorney, Esq.
NY and PA Motorcycle Attorney
The Ziff Law Firm, LLP
303 William Street
Elmira, NY 14901