I am sure that almost every motorcycle rider in and around Utah has heard about the “road rage motorcycle crash” that occurred in Centerville Utah on September 4, 2008. I have resisted writing about this truly unfortunate accident because I wanted to have an appreciation for all sides before commenting. This motorcycle crash was an accident that just did not have to happen on so many levels. Let's look at this accident one ill-fated step at a time.
It appears that the driver of the bike, 50-year-old Michael Rakes, had his 10-year-old son on the baclk of his bike as a passenger. Michael was not wearing a helmet because he gave it to his son to wear. I am all for the freedom of choice to wear a helmet once you are old enough to make that decision. However, having a 10-year-old wear an oversized helmet is not a good idea.
It is alleged that the driver of ablack Mazda, 32-year-old Kris Prinster, threw a cigerrette out of her driver side window. After the cigerette buttl landed on, near or around Mr. Rahes it appears that he accellerated and pulled up along side of Ms. Prinster. It appears that Prinster was driving in the top lane and Rakes pulled up along side her in the turning lane.
I have been the victim of having cigerette butts hit my bike as I followed passenger vehicles. Did it bother me, yes – was I pissed, yes – did I accelerate and pull up aloing side of teh offending vehicle and start yelling at the driver – NO! Please understand. I did not pull up along side of the vehicle once having been hit with a cigerette butt not becasue I wanted to but because I was afraid I would get mangled. Let's face it people – car versus motorcycle – car wins – every time!
Whatever happened next is the matter of some argument. Either the car swerved accidently or intentionally because teh physical evidence shows contact between the bike and the car' left rear panel. There also appears to be evidence to show that the contact occurred in the turning lane. Rakes' wife who was riding another Harley behind her husband alleges that Prinster swerved into Rakes.
On the other hand Prinster says there was no intent in throwing out the cigerette butt and she was driving simply to get away from the motorcycle when the crash occurred.
I do not know what happened. But I do know this. Had Prinster not thrown her cigerette butt out the window Rakes would not have been tempted to pull up along side her. Even after Rakes pulled up along side of Prinster all she had to do to “get away” from the motorcycle was simply roll up her window. Do not get me wrong. Rakes should sholder some degree of responsibility but if I had to make the call I would say that Prinster was at least more than 50% responsible for the accident.
Leagally speaking this would be a difficult case to prove liability – that Prinster was responsible for the accident but I think it could be done. As a side note Rakes' son only sustained an ankle injury and abrasions. The son probably has a case against his father's insurance.