The needler in the haystack.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fatal traffic accident Saturday

Wreckage of a motorcycle lies in the roadway
after Saturday's fatal accident..

Plainfield Today reader (and roving reporter) B.C. phone while on the road Saturday afternoon to report a serious accident at Watchung and Kensington Avenues, involving a motorcycle and a sedan with three occupants.

I arrived about 30 minutes later to find the intersection blocked by yellow police tape all four ways as the County Police's accident investigation crew measured and photographed the scene.

The unidentified motorcyclist, said by bystanders to be a Plainfield resident, was fatally injured when his motorcycle -- traveling at a high speed -- hit the sedan as it was crossing Watchung Avenue traveling toward Putnam on Kensington.

Several bystanders, as well as my source, report the motorcycle was being pursued by police, but an officer at the scene was unable to confirm this.

From the damage to the sedan, it seems the rider was thrown from the motorcycle onto the car's upper driver door and windshield, while the motorcycle struck the driver's door directly. The door was removed in order to free the sedan's driver. He and two passengers were transported to JFK, according to bystanders.

In one shot taken from a distance, I discovered Councilor Rashid Burney standing behind the yellow tape at the far side of Watchung Avenue when I processed the photo. Not too long ago, one of the two stone pillars marking his driveway entrance was knocked down by a car which somehow managed to avoid a tree by just inches.

This is one of Plainfield's most dangerous intersections.

-- Dan Damon

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Bernice said...

This may be one of two motorcycles that sped past Grace Church at high speed sometimes on just one wheel. People were shocked at the dangerous speed of these motorcycles as they headed toward the Watchung/Crescent/East Seventh intersection. But some were glad to see a police car in pursuit. Nobody wants to share the road with reckless drivers. A full investigation should follow this accident.

Dan said...

Thank you, Bernice!

Some of the youngsters who I talked to at the scene said they thought there had been a second motorcycle that had kept on going after the crash.

Jackie said...

As a pedestrian in town, I swear I'm seeing more foolish behavior on motorcycles on the Plainfield city streets daily. At least NJ has a helmet law. I moved here 15 years ago from CT where there's no helmet law. To me, that's a death wish.

Maria Pellum, Plainfield Resident said...

Hi Dan,

If the motorcycle was being chased by the police, did it make any sense for them to chase the motorcycle at the speed that it seems it was?

I am seeing a lot more high speed chases by the police here in Plainfield and wonder if there shouldn't be more concerns about it, while it's great that they are chasing people, there must be a rule that they don't put in danger the life of innocents with their high speed chases.

Look forward to read more on this accident.



Michael said...

I was bound to happen.

There's a group of several motorcycles that speed on Watchung, sometimes doing wheelies, on a regular basis when the weather is nice.

Anonymous said...

As someone who was leaning over the young man telling him to hang on, telling him that help was on the way, telling him that God was here even as I knew that he may not hear me, I can assure you that if the police were in pursuit as you say, those terrible moments of waiting for the police and paramedics to arrive would have been much shorter. All this conjecture with little consideration for his family is unkind and unjust.

Dan said...

Maria --

I don't know for a fact that the motorcycle was being chased, but that is what some neighborhood kids told me, as well as someone who knows the driver of the car that was hit. Also, see Bernice's comment on what may have led up to the accident.

I believe police departments have guidelines about pursuing vehicles, but we cannot simply assume that anyone caused the accident other than the motorcyclist.

Some of the kids who I spoke with said they thought there was a second motorcycle.

If there was, hopefully an investigation will be done and all the facts as far as known be put on the table for the world to see.

I have seen cops in a big hurry to get somewhere but never a high-speed chase. And when they come down the street with sirens wailing and lights flashing, you would have to be blind and deaf not to have plenty of advance warning.

Dan said...

To 11:05 AM --

I don't think anyone who has commented, or myself in writing about the accident, intend any unkindness toward the young man's family.

Hopefully, the police will report on the accident and set the record straight.

There have been a couple of motorcycles that regularly race up and down West 7th Street, where I live. Though it is mostly after dark, it is worrisome to many in the neighborhood who do not always have good views coming out of their driveways, not to mention Irving Place, which has a blind spot on the left as you turn onto 7th.

And neighbors aren't the only ones who worry -- as I was walking down Kensington to my car to leave, a young woman with small children in the car rolled down her window and asked me anxiously what color the motorcycle was, since she could not see it clearly from the distance the yellow tape kept her at.

When I told her it was sort of a burnt-orange color, she sighed with relief and said to me, 'Thank God, then it can't be my brother.'

So even the loved ones of motorcyclists have concerns about them and their driving habits.

Anonymous said...

I find it difficult to muster up anything but relief that one more reckless driver who is contributing to ruining the quality of my life in Plainfield is off the road. And Burney, what about a traffic light? Oh, sorry, Jerry didn't approve that.

Anonymous said...

I hope that in light of this horrific accident, the administration will rethink its stupid decision to show the ultra-violent "Fast and the Furious."

I think that it's inappropriate, but especially so now.


Carol said...

South Plainfield, among other towns, has installed speed humps. That seems to be an economical way to slow down traffic. What about it? I've been asking for some action for years on this issue!

Anonymous said...

thats a real tough and mean comment. He was and will be my close Friend for the rest of my life and had a family. One of the most decent and respectful people you could ever meet. well liked by many many people and came from a good family.

Anonymous said...

As a RIDER, it makes me sick to my stomach to think that it is a RELEIF that this young man lost his life. By the way, I am also a Plainfield resident. That corner is a BAD corner and many accidents have occurred there. Whether he was running from the cops or not is irrelevant at this point. Me and other FELLOW RIDERS will be at the services to support the family.

quan said...

Point blank the police was at fault .When a cop pulls over a bike 2 things can happen :the rider is going to pull over or he going to run.Either way a ticket writing gun ho cop chose a mans life for a 300 dollar ticket

Anonymous said...

As a rider in the Plainfield area, I feel a tremendous loss for this young mans family and the motorcycle community. We are a very close knit club- black, white and "YELLOW". A loss of life is a sad thing for all involved including those in the car, so lets stop the ignorance and grieve as a community.

Anonymous said...

I THANK the police for doing their job. They pursued a driver who was breaking the law on many levels, including driving a stolen vehicle. Keep up the good work! I wish the police would do more to stop these law-breakers.
Oh, and I used to have a motorcycle, too.

Anonymous said...

The police was not chasing this motorcycle. By the time the officer got to Watchung Avenue from 7th street, the officer saw that the motorcycle was picking up speed...he turned off his lights, told dispatch that he was not pursuing, and made a right onto East 9th street to return to the library parking lot. By the time he got back to Park and 9,dispatch called out the accident. It was a 19 year veteran who does not...and will not chase. There are guidelines and because of these guidelines....the officer chose not to chase. And yes Bernice...the motorcycle did go by the libray on ONE WHEEL which is why the officer tried to stop him in the first protect the citizens of Plainfield from this dangerous motorcycle. Don't blame the officer...with all do respect, blame the deceased.

Anonymous said...

verI am not surprised to read this story. I too was at the Grace Church yard sale on 7th St. when these two cyclelists, the leading cycle was orange/tangerine toned flew past the church riding on one wheel making alot of gear shifting noise. It was just a scary image to see and hear. I said to myself that they were headed to be in an accident at that rate of speed. A few seconds later two undercover cars, one a red toned Ford Explorer rushed past the church with sirens roaring. I thought that was good because someone surely was going to get hurt by the cyclelists and they needed to be stopped. The two cars that seemed to be in pursuit of the cyclelists passed the church in the opposite direction a few minutes later again with their sirens. Anyway, I thank the good Lord that no child was hit since there were children, mothers with baby carriages and bicyclists, as well as people crossing the street to attend the yard sale in the area. Had a pesdestrian been crossing the street they may have been hit. Sometimes it takes the foolish actions of some to be an example for many.

Anonymous said...

To the ignorant individual who wrote that they feel relief, you should be ashamed of yourself. That man has family and friends who are hurting, just like your family would hurt if something terrible happened to you. Regardless of how or why the crash happened, he did not deserve what happened. Btw, he wasn't being chased, it's really not that serious to risk the driver's and other citizen's safety for a "$300 ticket".

My condolences to his family.


Anonymous said...

Is anyone thinking about the possibility that an innocent driver or passenger in the car that was hit may have been killed? The cyclelist chose his path of destruction with no regard to LIFE, neither his or anyone else.

By the way ASW, we're sure you must be speaking from personal experience to call someone else "ignorant" for voicing their opinion. The saying that "you give what you got" is so true in your case. Are you the second cyclelist that got away? It sounds as if you are, or maybe you also exhibit bad road habits. Look in your mirror.

Anonymous said...

Do you anything about the crash on 8/7 on rt22 in the Watchung area?

Dan said...

to 7:21 PM --

I didn't know it was a fatal accident. The Courier covered it here

and here

It was an out-of-state driver who seems to have been confused about the intersection lights at Rt 22 and Mountain Avenue in North Plainfield, and turned into the motorcycle's path, causing the accident.

That's all I know.

Anonymous said...

No one is happy to that someone has been killed. To blame police is rediculous. They didnt just pick him out in a crowd. They are there for our protection. If they hadnt chased the people would say, Where are the police now? This accident doesnt mean anyone is either god or bad. If anything a moment of lack of attention, and good judgement, On any ons part.

Anonymous said...

yes it was an fatal accident..yes its about two years later later but for most of you to say that he got what he deserved is just plain old b.s.
And for those of you to say he caused the accident is wrong. On the police report it states the the driver of the car ran the stop sign.
You have no respect for our family or yourselves to be happy that someone is dead. Just cruel.....

Anonymous said...

This was a great man friend and father. Anyone who knows him would agree. It is crazy that people are so cold hearted. This is a man that would give a stranger the shirt of his back without question. Plainfield has so many other issues to be worried about. I ride faithfully and it keeps me off of the streets. Just because someone wants to wheelie doesnt mean he has no respect towards human life. This man was the best on two wheels and even one.

For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Shantel said...

As hard as I try to stay away from reading this post about my brother, I can't. Its hard to believe that people can comment on someone's life when they knew nothing about him. How can you be glad that someone is dead, and say that it was bound to happen. You people have no respect for our family. How would you feel if this was an article about one your family members, and people were making cruel comments about your loved one. If you don't have nothing nice to say, then don't say anything at all. And again for the record that man who was driving caused that accident. He ran the stop sign. My brother had no time to react. He was one of the greatest riders in Plainfield. And just because he was riding his motorcycle, you guys past judgment on him. He's been riding for years. Riding was a hobby for him. He worked hard, he has a fiance and a son.
When my nephew gets old enough to understand that his father is no longer here and wants to find out what happened to him, this is what he gonna to see. That people were about his fathers death. People who didn't even know him. All of you should be ashamed of yourselves, and stop leaving comments if you have nothing good to say.

And as far as that other rider goes. I have no comment. (If you have nothing nice to say, then don't say anything at all.)

Dan said...

Shantel -- I am putting your comment up, and am sorry for the loss of your brother's life.

If you look closely, though, the comments are almost all from the time of the accident (one is from 2010), except for your comments.

Sadly, we just witnessed another motorcycle accident after last weekend's MGM event, when a biker hit a car trying to turn out of Melrose Avenue onto West Front Street.