Motorcyclist & Pass Die After Day Of Drinking - Stromtrooper Forum : Suzuki V-Strom Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 17 Old 06-10-2010, 12:47 PM Thread Starter
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Unhappy Motorcyclist & Pass Die After Day Of Drinking

Another thread here on this site got me to thinking about my post here. In this other thread the author talks about many things and one of them is crashes, safety and who is responsible for the crash, wrongful death etc. Here is my story

A few years ago I was called to jury duty and selected to sit on a corners jury. It involved a middle age couple who were not married who ended up dying as a result of a motorcycle crash after both had been drinking and riding all day. This crash was a single vehicle accident only the motorcycle was involved no other bike or car.

I thought I was very well qualified to sit on this jury because of my 50 years of riding and had in the past been known to take a drink or two myself while riding a motorcycle (we must be honest here folks). The corner is also a personal friend of mine and my family and perhaps this is why he suggested I be made the foreman of this jury. (This would later end up haunting me badly).

The jury was made up of I think 11 people about 60% female and 40%male. Among others besides me on the jury was a medical doctor ( I didn't know they had to serve) and some young & older people.

As we began to hear the facts it was very clear to me the driver of the motorcycle was much in the wrong. His BAC was almost 3x over the legal limit which here in IL is .08 and hers (his pass) was about .03 which would mean she was well under maybe she had a limit of only 2 drinks in her system. I stood up and told my fellow jurors I was a motorcycle rider of 50 years, had indeed drank and rode and always felt it was my duty and legal responsibility as the operator to safe guard not only myself but my pass. I knew it was a clear cut shut and dry case. BUT hold on, the women of all people were not to my agreement and pointed out that this lady knew fully what she was doing getting on behind this guy (I call him a drunk). They contended she had not just meet him at the last bar stop but been with him all day even though she had only had very few drinks. Try as I might these gals dug their heels in (you know how this can be right boys) and when it came time to vote their thinking carried the jury to find this rider ( I call him a drunk) not responsible for her death. In IL a corner's jury does not have to be 100% just the majority rules. I think the vote went something like 7-4 .

Earlier I said that being the foreman of this jury would later haunt me I had to stand up before the court and the dead ladies family and read the verdict. Folks let me tell you I don't ever want to see eyes staring at me ever again like I did that day from her daughters and grand daughters. As bad as I wanted to shout out I couldn't of course. Outside later I did try and console a daughter but it was not a happy ending.

So I say to you as my fellow riders ........... Was this rider responsible for her death in your mind. I guess that is why we are judged by 11 instead of 1

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post #2 of 17 Old 06-10-2010, 12:56 PM
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All rise................

"Was this rider responsible for her death in your mind."

No........no one made her get on that bike. No different if she had gotten in a car with a drunk and the driver had an accident, in my mind. I feel remorse and pity for the families (of both), but does one family "deserve" $$$ because their loved one made the wrong decision that day to ride along with that guy?? I vote "No". Not here to argue my point, just stated my position.

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post #3 of 17 Old 06-10-2010, 01:12 PM
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Just as when I was flying, I categorically refuse to have any alcohol whatsoever until I have finished riding for the day.

That said, it is a difficult question. True, nobody made her get on that bike but in reality BOTH had impaired judgment and neither one of them had any business driving or riding, passenger or not. Also true, had he been sober she probably would not have died. So in that respect he is guilty.

I would have hated to be on that jury because there is culpability both ways.

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post #4 of 17 Old 06-10-2010, 01:35 PM
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In my view, the operator of the MC is responsible for the safety of the passenger. His actions provided the result, which is the crash.

True, while it was in bad judgment of the passenger to hop on, there was no action on her part that caused the crash (as far as we can tell).

MC operator is guilty.

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post #5 of 17 Old 06-10-2010, 01:40 PM
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Seeing as how this case was about who was responsible for the passengers death, let's look at how it could have been 100% avoided.

1st the passenger could have refused to ride.
2nd the driver could have refused to drive.
Both people had the power to avoid the passengers death. Both voluntarily acted in a way that resulted in the death.

It's very common these days to hear that "YOU are ultimately responsible for your own safety", and unless threatened or somehow forced into doing something against your will, I tend to agree.

Other questions arise like, was alcohol really THE reason for the accident? More than likely it was, but hard to prove as non intoxicated people crash and die every day in single vehicle motorcycle accidents.

Even assigning 100% responsibility to the driver for the crash is an unknown.

How do you know that the passenger didn't contribute to the crash like slapping the driver in the back of the head, screaming/yelling, punching him in the ribs, or otherwise distracting him, or moving around causing the bike to go offline, etc. Unless there are witnesses to indicate otherwise, you just don't know.

Now that we know both had a share of responsibility in the matter, the only question left is how much is assigned to each one (if in fact that's even applicable).
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post #6 of 17 Old 06-10-2010, 02:07 PM
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How about turning this around for a minute? Was SHE responsible for HIS death? Why? She was allegedly sober and therefore it could be argued that it was HER responsibility to do everything she could, within reason of course, to prevent him from riding, she KNEW he was drunk. Friends don't let friends drive/ride drunk, remember? What she did NOT do contributed as much to the accident as what he DID do. Should there have been any kind of trial? No. She was as responsible for her own death as he was for his own. Unfortunate as the whole situation is.

Of course it is easy to speculate and have these opinions sitting at my keyboard.

I still find it very hard to be compassionate in situations like this, if you drink and drive/ride you are simply a menace to yourself AND others. I don't drink & drive/ride, as a matter of fact I don't drink at all, ever.

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post #7 of 17 Old 06-10-2010, 03:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arne View Post
How about turning this around for a minute? ... she KNEW he was drunk. Friends don't let friends drive/ride drunk, remember? ....
Of course it is easy to speculate and have these opinions sitting at my keyboard.
Like you said, the situation in this thread is full of speculation, and can be looked at either way. Flip side, since there are no witnesses left alive here, one couldn't assume that she KNEW he was drunk. Yeah, they were drinking, but perhaps she thought that his consumption was further in line with what hers was. Some people can mask their drunkeness on the surface better than others. Was she expected to carry a breathalizer with her to test him? And, if she did ask him if he was OK to drive did he answer "No way, I'm drunk as a F'n Skunk" or "Yeah, I'm cool, babe" (my guess is the latter) Basically, people are saying that she is responsible for putting herself in the situation, but there aren't enough facts to know if she had the necessary information to make an informed decision about the situation.

Personally, I think the guy was 100% at fault and had no business riding a bike after drinking at all and killing someone's daughter.

I hear all the time about how teenagers in cars get into single vehicle crashes and die and the driver is usually considered "at fault." Why is this different because it's a motorcycle? Driver killed them here, period.

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post #8 of 17 Old 06-10-2010, 04:52 PM
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Since they had spent all day together drinking, and he was SO far over the legal limit, she couldn't have helped but notice that he was drunk and therefore she shouldn't have gotten on the bike. But that doesn't absolve him from having the ultimate responsibility for the safety of his passenger, so I would have put the blame for her death primarily on him. But since it was too late for any verdict to bring back either one of them or even help either one of them, the trial essentially was about which 3rd party would inherit his wealth, which is a relatively unimportant issue, so I hope you're not losing too much sleep over it. If she had lived but been severely disabled, or if she had small children who had lost a mom and would need money for a college education, etc, I think it would have been much more important that she be the beneficiary of his estate.
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post #9 of 17 Old 06-10-2010, 04:58 PM
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Moral responsibility and legal responsibility are two different things. Moral responsibility is based on the observer's ethics and legal responsibility is according to the letter of the law.

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post #10 of 17 Old 06-10-2010, 05:11 PM
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This process is foreign to me. I am in the camp that says there is 50/50 liability for her death, but this doesn't seem to be what a coroner's jury does. I don't think we have those in OK, so I dunno. Another odd aspect is that the coroner has his best bud on any jury.

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