More Eggshells

Well recent events have got me thinking about an event I was involved in Maine in the Town of Monmouth Police Department back in 2000 . Just this week in Glenburn, Maine a 16yr old girl went missing, and today a 20yr old man was arrested for her murder, after her body was found in Old Town yesterday. What torture her family and friends must have gone through the last few days, not knowing if she was alive, not knowing what was happening to her. Now two lives are ruined, both the young girl and the man, well older boy really, who is accused of murdering her. The news reports also show he was involved in a high-speed chase on the Interstate last year. Just a couple of days after getting his motorcycle permit, he was chased at speeds of up to 130mph before he crashed trying to avoid a road block. When he went to turn himself in for jail, he was arrested in connection with the young girls murder. Apparently they were close, she had recently been to his house, he knew he was facing a jail term for the chase, whatever happened between them, she ended up dead.

Anyway, this reminded me of an incicent back in 200_ I was on patrol one early evening in Monmouth, the only office on duty in the small town. When coming around a corner headed out-of-town on a hill, I sensed and saw a motorcycle coming towards me at speed, I managed to snap the radar on it, at 86mph, in a 45mph limit! Well obviously it was time to play, but I had to engage with caution. I had to clear the corner, so I could turn safely, and wait for the other motorcycle, this one travelling a rather more sedately, to pass, so I could turn on the speeder. I did this knowing full well that the first motorcycle was long gone. So I turned safely, accelerated and overtook the second motorcycle, and of course the first one was no-where to be found. The area he had blown by me flattened out for a short stretch, then crested to a mile long downhill straight to a sweeping left hand turn.

As I came over the second, lower crest, I could see all the way down to the apex of the curve, and no sign of the motorcycle. There was no more than three or four smaller roads off the main drag, which the rider would have been hard pressed to slow down in time to take, so I continued on to Main Street, coming to a halt at the stop sign with my lights going, eliciting some interested stares from the few pedestrians and drivers on Main Street. That gave me pause, no one was acting like a motorcycle had just blown through at high-speed, apparently I was the most interesting thing what had happened to Main Street in the last few minutes, if not years. So I turned around and took the only other road the rider could have realistically taken, which by-passes the downtown and heads out to the state road. Cruising around out there I came across the second motorcycle, who apparently had the same idea as myself, and apparently the same result, we exchanged poo stares and kept searching.

Eventually I had to give up, there was absolutely no sign of him, I had to presume that since he was driving at that speed, he was an accomplished rider who was able to control the bike, and make a safe getaway, perhaps a quite turn onto a side road and away out-of-town. I bore no grudge against him, his time would come, I just hoped he didn’t hurt anyone else in the meantime, having been to a fatal motorcycle vs pedestrian before, where the motorcyclist was showing off with wheelies at high-speed, took out a pedestrian. But I have also seen plenty of accidents where car drivers were at fault, and the poor rider on the motorcycle always comes of worse.

So it was with some surprise when dispatch asked a few hours later if I had been involved in a chase with a motorcycle.  The events had developed so quickly I had not called anything in initially, then af course who wants to call in the fact that a motorcycle got away? As far as I was concerned, since I never saw the rider again, it was a search for the bike, with no contact, not an active chase.

Well apparently the Emergency Room of the local Trauma Center was calling, some parents had brought in their teenage son with sever head injuries, who had fled from me earlier and crashed spectacularly apparently. And I could find the bike in a drainage ditch at the beginning of the first corner, he didn’t make it very far before loosing it, and I was very mistaken about his riding skill, just a dumb kid riding in excess of his skill level, showing off, and paid the price.

It was after the event, when I was reconstructing it in my mind, that I figured out how it happened. At the point we passed, the bike had just come up a rise and around a right hand curve, so to still be doing 86mph was doing pretty well. Then what I think happened was as he saw me, he opened up the throttle as he came through the apex of the curve, then went along a slight plateau to a second rise, then a long drop off for the best part of a mile to a long sweeping left hand curve. As the bike came around the curve then accelerated on the initial plateau, the bike would have settled down and back slightly, the center of gravity pushed back by the acceleration, the force of the engine engaging at high revolutions pulling the front of the bike down slightly. Then the bike reaches the end of the plateau, and the road falls away in a long downhill, gravity is helping the bike accelerate even more, as the bike goes downhill, the center of gravity comes up higher, and the bike is now dangerously unbalanced, travelling at very high-speed, and in the hands of an inexperienced rider.

As the bike came to the long left hand curve at the bottom of the hill, as the curve began there is a crash barrier on the right, to prevent vehicles leaving the road on the curve. Well this bike was not well-balanced and couldn’t even make that, he went to the right of the crash barrier, into the dirt, and down into the drainage ditch. So when I drive by, just a few moments later, the dust had enough time to settle, and the bike and it’s rider were in the ditch under water. Apparently what he did then was stagger home, which was a little way back up the hill, where his parent’s, instead of calling 911 and getting a rescue worker there, drove him to the emergency room.

Although it might not seem it, that was probably the quickest way to get good treatment for him, since the rescue department was a volunteer department, so they would respond in their personal vehicles to the scene, and might not necessarily be trained medics. Still, I think I would personally prefer someone with a bag of first aid gear and a little bit of training as soon as I could get one, before being driven 20 minutes in a car to the emergency room.

So I had a wrecker drag the bike out of the ditch, the headlamp was still on, but the bike was a mess, and when I met up with the rider, to write him some tickets a week or so later, he was pretty much messed up too, his scalp had been torn up since he was of course not wearing a helmet. Unfortunately after talking with his him for a while, I got the feeling he hadn’t really learned any life lessons, which made writing he tickets a lot easier.

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About limey6

Father of four, husband of one, Ex-pat ex cop Englishman living in rural Maine
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