By now, you probably know about the tragic event at the 28th Annual Love Ride. The Love Ride was founded by Glendale Harley-Davidson owner Oliver Shokouh. The ride begins at the dealership, fifteen minutes north of downtown Los Angeles, and winds its way up to Castaic Lake, about forty miles north.
In it's 28-year history, the event has raised over $13 million for charity. And no death or injury has ever been reported. Until this year.
Two separate crashes occurred on the Interstate 5 freeway in the San Fernando Valley. The first of which, occurring an hour after the ride began, resulted in the death of two riders. Romarino Zeri, 51, of Los Angeles and Julie Cameron, 38, of Venice Beach, were both killed when their motorcycle collided with a 16-wheeler big rig.
If it's possible, the story gets a bit worse. Tonight Show host Jay Leno has served as grand marshall every year since 1985. This year, however, Leno made a few ill-timed (and bad-taste) jokes have people upset all over the country. Leno reportedly made jokes about wanting to see a motorcycle crash at the event. His remarks were sadly prophetic.
"Every year, [the organizer] says, 'Drive safe.' I'm gonna say, 'Don't drive safe.' I wanna see somebody go down. So it'll be fun. I want it to be in front or behind me and see a whole row of bikes go down. Get drunk, fall off the road. We've all become too damn polite … we haven't had one incident."
Leno's job is to make people laugh. We know that he pokes fun at everyone and everything, and that he surely must feel awful about these jokes. Heck, the guy is an avid motorcyclist himself. Obviously, he was just trying (unsuccessfully, in our opinion) to be funny. And we're sure he regrets those comments. So we're not going to pile on with those who criticize him.
But we will say this: Motorcycle safety is no laughing matter. Whether riding alone or in a group, proper riding techniques, proper safety equipment (including a DOT-approved helmet), and staying sober and alert are vital to the safety of yourself, your passengers, and your fellow riders. As a motorcycle accident lawyer in OC, I see far too many tragedies that could have been avoided with proper training, or mitigated with proper safety equipment. We urge you to use both fully.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those riders who were killed and injured on Sunday.