Common Tread

Did good riding weather cause a tragedy?

Mar 21, 2016

Keeping up with the news in the motorcycle world is usually a fun part of my job, but I recently dug up a news article that was disheartening to the point of being disturbing. 

Jason Nolasco
Jason Nolasco.
It's a brief article, with pitifully little information. On Sunday, March 7, Jason Nolasco was out for a bicycle ride in Webster City, Iowa. The boy unexpectedly rode into the path of a motorcycle and a collision occurred. Nolasco was airlifted to a Des Moines hospital, where he died. The motorcyclist was examined at the scene by paramedics, but was not transported for medical treatment, according to a press release from the Webster City Police Department. As of the time of this writing, the case is still being investigated. A representative of the Webster City Police Department stated that the speed limit at the scene of the accident is 25 mph.

I sat quietly at my desk, just absorbing this. I couldn't help but think of my own goober kid at home. As a former resident of the Midwest, my first coherent thought was a stray one, "I bet it was probably the first nice day they had in a while." I did some digging, and it was probably only the second or third day Webster City had seen this year that was warm enough to see bikes on the road. I wonder how long it had been since that motorcyclist's last ride.

I have no idea what circumstances surrounded the crash. I'm not attempting to discuss fault here. Trying to hash this out based on the minimal information in the news account and the police department news release would be a fruitless endeavor. I was simply moved by the event. I realized it also presented me with a moment to reflect upon how much responsibility I bear, and how many mistakes I make when I haven't been on a bike recently.

Even when things seem great, this little interest of ours is a highly risky activity. In a split second, many lives can be permanently altered. Good weather is something that brings everyone outdoors, not just us. For those of us in colder climates, our riding skills may have grown a bit rusty due to the long hiatus. I'm trying my best not to get preachy, especially in this case. I am aware I'm not privy to all the relevant information. So, take the following sentence as instruction, encouragement, coaching, or simply a sad reaction to the death of a small boy. Be prudent, especially when your skills might not be up to par.

I have no idea if Jason's parents ride. I wonder what they will think for the rest of their lives each time they see a motorcyclist go by. The machines that bring each of us so much joy will forever be reminders of what is likely to be the most painful occurrence of their lives. I think it might be a small tribute to him if his death was something we kept in our thoughts. Given that Easter is around the corner, I can't help think that perhaps his death could save the lives of countless others.

If you've got a child of your own, take a second to hug him or her. Motorcycles are crazy-fast. So is life. Please be careful out there. There could be people at the scene of a crash who won't be wearing safety equipment.