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(Stickie) Derek, STOC #001, the long story by George Catt *

Started by KoTAOW, March 03, 2012, 08:38:35 PM

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Submitted by George Catt, STOC #004


Derek, STOC #001, the long story by George Catt

George, in one way, I hate to ask, but you and I are about the same age and I have a son that rides an ST.  For what I can learn from it,
would you mind relating the circumstances of Derek's accident?

I can only imagine the pain you have felt...

Ed Lee, STOC #5066,
Lancaster, SC


Ed, glad to. Need to educate the young'uns. I'm gonna share this with the liST and with ST-Owners and my Chicago friends as there's plenty of newer riders out there who haven't heard the whole story _and_ who might learn from the mistakes of others.

I also have a son (Adam) who rides an ST. He'll read this here, too. If he's the only one, I'll be happy. I know many of you have heard this before. Can't hurt to refresh, tho. We all need to pay more attention, ride like we're invisible, and keep our collective heads up.


May 27, 1994

Derek was south bound on a local 2-lane near Seneca, S.C. He had just left an HSTA dinner at the next town north. He passed all the others as they left the restaurant, in a hurry to hook up with another buddy who had arrived late.

Sun was setting, not quite dark. Don't know if that was a factor. Car pulled out of a side street from his right, also headed south. Looks like he pulled out to pass her as she made an immediate left into the unmarked left hand T intersection. He was beside her, hit her front left quarter and wheel, put him over an embankment and down into a gully about 30 feet. He landed on his back, his head hit a concrete culvert hard. Ruptured spleen and other internal injuries. First person on the scene was a surgical nurse and EMT was there quickly. No chance.

Driver was cited for failure to yield, said she never saw him. It was dark enuff that his lights should'a showed up easily. Guess it didn't happen. S.C. HP said Derek did nothing wrong but he was probably over the speed limit. When she pulled out, he went left to go around her and she turned left into him. Derek was in the wrong in that he was over the double yellow, but the cop says she pulled out, probably without a full stop and forced him to go left, then turned left into him. There were was a sign showing the T intersection from the right but none showing the T intersection from the left. There is now (after the second fatality less than a year later.)

He may have just thought he could pass with no problem, or she may really have forced him into the left lane when she pulled out. Either way, the crash occurred. He actually went over the side from the edge of the side road, around the east end of the ARMCO barrier that lines the main road. The bike stayed on the ground all the way down, as shown by the tracks. Don't know if he was still on it at that point. The bike bounced so hard at the bottom that it end-oed, going upside down, back wheel first between two trees. We found his radio, previously stored in the tail piece, hanging about 6 feet up in the limbs. Plastic explosion sent shards in all directions.

So, what can yur son (and many others) learn from this. Basically, one thing: SLOW DOWN!! Derek had an admitted "Need For Speed." He was prolly well over the posted 55, on an unknown road, in a basically residential area. He didn't anticipate a problem, still suffering from the delusion of youth: invincibility. The driver was suffering from familiarity, myopia, and the typical BDI syndrome we all know so well. She was probably concentrating on her shopping list, looking south to see that no traffic was gonna slow her progress on to the east bound side street, and didn't even glance left as she pulled out of her side street. Whatever, the combination of youthful exuberance and middle-age myopia resulted in this tragedy.

My thought on the whole thing is that both contributed to the final result. The state was also at fault for not adequately marking the intersection. The driver was in her element and expected nothing unusual. Derek was in his element and _should have_ expected the unexpected. That's the big lesson to be learned.

Here's the bottom line: education comes in four levels:
1. Awareness - ya know something exists (in this case, danger.)
2. Knowledge - ya know about the intricacies of that something (danger can kill ya!)
3. Transfer - ya know _why_ this knowledge is important to ya. Yu'll never get good at anything unless you can make that transfer.
   Knowledge is never enuff cause it doesn't raise any passion. Transfer is where the figurative light bulb comes on.
4. Practice, practice, practice - this is where ya take yur knowledge and use it to get good, better, best.

Important to note, too, that learning never stops. Transfer and practice leads to more awareness and more knowledge. Never ending loop. Wisdom comes with experience. Unfortunately, experience usually comes from lack of wisdom. Use the mistakes of others to learn instead'a graduating from the school of hard knocks.

I've read, many years ago, that motorcyclists with over 100,000 miles experience are among the best and safest drivers on the roads. They have proved their "survivability." Usually, that experience comes over several years. In Derek's case, he had just made 100,000 miles, but in only 3 years. Worst thing, to me, about his experience is his previous serious accident, he didn't "learn" his lesson. He was rear-ended about 2 years earlier, totaled his bike, threw him about 30 feet into the ditch. He walked away without a scratch. His "invincibility" shield actually got a boost from that one. So, tho he had the necessary awareness and knowledge, he had not made that absolutely necessary transfer to WHY is it important.

All youse guys and gals reading this, please take his mistake and use it to make that all important leap: ya can't see where yur going with yur head up yur butt.

Here's a set of pics. Take a close notice of the wrecked bike. Imagine what that kind of force can do to the human body. ATGATT (all the gear, all the time) can only help so much.

Have yur young and new riders read this and look at the pics. Make'em take the MSF basic and Advanced Rider courses. Get'em to do a track day and maybe a Keith Code School. Ride with'em and tell'em what __you_ think they're doing wrong. And ask them their opinion, too, about all kinds of stuff. Ya might learn sumpin'.

George - STOC #004
in Kingman, Arizona


Thank You again for your contribution George Catt, STOC #004