It was a deadly weekend of motorcycle crashes in Western New York. Five people were killed in five separate accidents around the region. Experienced motorcycle riders think the high number of deadly crashes may be attributed to the fact that it is early in the season and drivers on four-wheels may be out of the habit of watching out for motorcycles, and the skills of motorcycle riders may be a little bit rusty.
Damian Ruzbacki is the local president of A.B.A.T.E. which stands for American Bikers Aimed Toward Education. He's been riding for years and has been involved in his share of crashes, including a hit-and-run last year. "Somebody coming on the inside of me knocked me down on my left side. I was making a right-hand turn," recalls Ruzbacki.
Ruzbacki says motorcycle riders should never assume that other drivers see them. "Rule number one... I've preached this for years... you put this helmet on and you are invisible. Nobody pays attention to you," says Ruzbacki.
New York State Trooper Art Pittman rides a Harley Davidson for his job and he agrees with Ruzbacki. "I've had to take evasive action hundreds of times because someone decided to enter my lane or cut me off," says Trooper Pittman.
Some of the drivers on four wheels don't notice motorcycles because they're distracted by cell phones or numerous other things and their concentration is not on driving. Plus, in this age of distracted driving there are even more motorcycles sharing the road. Motorcycle registrations have increased 30 percent in New York State over the last five years according to State Police, and some of the newer, younger riders take more risks. "They see things as a video game where in the video game they can go 100 miles per hour, crash, get up, get on another bike and go," explains Trooper Pittman, "Here if they travel 100 miles per hour they're going to be launched into the next dimension. They're not coming back up for another ride."
Police say a deadly crash Sunday night in Colden involved an older driver and alcohol. Ronald Tackentien, 54, of Collins is facing D.W.I. and manslaughter charges after the woman riding with him was killed. "You can't let alcohol be part of your operation. You have to be very alert very aware," says Trooper Pittman.
No matter how long someone has been riding motorcycles both Pittman and Ruzbacki say it's a good idea for all riders to take a safety course every so often. Click on the following link for more information on local motorcycle safety courses: http://www.ridewpride.com/
The local chapter of A.B.A.T.E. is welcoming new members. Click the following link for more information: http://www.cyberspokes.com/abatebuffalo.htm
BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) -- Five people have died as a result of numerous motorcycle accidents that occurred over the past weekend.
29-year-old Michael Stoldt was killed Saturday afternoon in Elma when a van failed to yield while turning into a library driveway. Stoldt was thrown from the bike and died at ECMC as a result of his injuries.
48-year-old Beth Szymanski was killed late Sunday night in Colden after being thrown from the back of the motorcycle she was on. Police say the driver of that motorcycle crossed into the on-coming lane before losing control of the vehicle. The driver has been charged with DWI and vehicular manslaughter.
Wallace Kozakowski, 56, of North Tonawanda died early Saturday morning when his motorcycle went off Sweeney Street in North Tonawanda and struck a utility pole.
Daniel Lynch, age 50, died when he failed to negotiate a curve on McKinstry Road in Yorkshire Sunday evening. Lynch struck a guardrail and a sign post and was thrown from his bike.
The fifth fatality of the weekend happened Saturday night in East Otto when Charles L. Bailey lost control of his motorcycle, striking a ditch which threw him from the bike. Bailey was flown by Mercy Flight to ECMC where he later died.