November 13, 2013

PHELAN — A motorcycle crash in the deserts of San Bernardino left a young boy dead.

Zachary Mercier, aged 11, was rushed to the Desert Valley Hospital in Victorville after being involved in the crash. Despite the best efforts of hospital staff, he was pronounced dead at 12:07 pm, according to San Bernardino County coroner's officials.

The incident occurred in Phelan near the intersection of Centola Road and Sundown Drive when, around 11:05 a.m., a head-on collision between young Zachary and another off-road motorcyclist took place.

This tragic story really hits close to home for me. Throughout my life I have been frequenting the deserts of Southern California, Nevada, Arizona and Baja, Mexico. I began riding at a very young age, and have had more crashes than I could ever recall, one of which was a collision with a quad rider. Although it is inevitable that young riders will occasionally fall, collisions with other riders can be mitigated by taking certain measures.

Firstly, all young riders should have flag whips on their motorcycles. Many believe these only to be necessary when riding in sand dunes, and for older, more visible riders this might be true. However when young children are shorter than desert foliage, a whip is important. Secondly, explaining to young riders about how to react to oncoming traffic is highly important. Generally, riders should always break to their right when facing oncoming traffic. The rule is true for the dirt just as much as it is true for the highway. With this said, sometimes breaking right is not sufficient to avoid collision.

While riding down an access road on my first motorcycle, a quad rider turned in front of me. There was a steep embankment that I either wasn't able or wasn't comfortable summiting at high speed, so instead I hugged the berm as closely as possible to attempt and squeeze by the quad. In my panic, I locked the rear tire and did not give sufficient front brake. Fortunately when I contacted the quad, it was my gear shifter that took the brunt of the impact. His front right tire blew and my transmission failed to shift properly afterwards, but physical harm had been avoided. Looking back, I should not have been following too closely behind the quad rider, I should have applied more braking and in a last ditch effort I should have attempted to summit the embankment. If you have a young rider, it's important to speak with them about contention plans if a collision ever seems imminent.

The San Bernardino motorcycle accident lawyers offer their deepest condolences to the family and friends of the young rider, and conversely hope the best for the other rider involved in this accident.