January 10, 2013
A 22-year-old service-member was killed yesterday in an accident that left his motorcycle engulfed in flames and pinned under a sedan.
The collision occurred just after 4:00 pm on the I-8 near Mission Valley. After the collision a fuel leak caused a fire which destroyed both the Suzuki motorcycle and the sedan on top of it. The flames raged on despite bystanders attempts to put out the fire using hand fire extinguishers.
Despite bystanders performing CPR on-scene, the rider was pronounced dead. The driver of the sedan, a 53-year-old Chula Vista woman, was uninjured.
Police investigators note that the motorcycle was traveling at approximately 100 mph at the time of the collision, which occurred as the rider was attempting to merge onto the I-805 from the I-8.
According to CHP Sergeant Jack Mears, "He came upon slower traffic. He was unable to stop in time." He added that lane-splitting among riders in San Diego is a common problem and that "they have to drive safe, just like anyone else."
A witness on-scene, Alyssa Ehrlich, stated "It sounded like a bomb coming from the same area where the black motorcycle had just left…either they were racing or some road rage was going on…it's just absurd to think that somebody would just leave that quickly from a scene, then a half second later there is another motorcyclist dead in flames."
At this point however, investigators say that it's merely a case of operator error.
Mears did not agree with the witness, stating "we have no factual basis for any type of racing at this time."
It is true, as riders on heavily populated roadways, we should not be going in excess of 100 mph (remember, he was going 100 at the time of impact, probably after having slowed already). On the same token, it's an interesting insight into the mind of your typical driver, that they automatically assume someone driving fast is either racing or angry. This is a digressive point however. The fact of the matter is that while lane-splitting can be done safely, it's easily done recklessly. What's more, although it feels like a controlled situation while on the bike, from a bystanders perspective we might seem crazy shooting by them and squeezing between traffic, often because they don't even notice us until we reach their a-pillar (something that might make us re-consider how controlled the situation really is). Don't mistake this as advice to avoid lane-splitting, only to consider that when we are on the road we represent the entire motorcycle riding community whether we know it or not. We should be diplomatic around other traffic, if not for our own safety then for the image of our community.
With all of that said this is a tragic event that was entirely avoidable, and is a situation we never want to see happen. The San Diego motorcycle lawyers here at RiderzLaw offer our sincerest condolences to the family and friends who have been affected by this, and beg our readers to please be careful when riding our streets.