We ride. Sometimes we crash

Three motorcyclists removed from scene of a crash on the Blue Ridge Parkway on Sunday. (Photo by Tim Saunders)
Three motorcyclists removed from scene of a crash on the Blue Ridge Parkway on Sunday. (Photo by Tim Saunders)

The dangers motorcyclists face each and every time we ride hit hard in the area over the weekend.

Carl Edward Pence, 35, of Rocky Mount went down when his 2002 Harley Davidson struck a dear in the northbound lane of U.S. 220 just south of Route 635 around 8:35 p.m. in Franklin County Sunday.

Pence lay in the highway when a Freightliner tractor trailer driven by Kevin Blackburn, 37, of Thomasville, North Carolina, ran over him.  Blackburn didn’t stop but police pulled him over in Boone’s Mill and arrested for felony hit and run.

I know all too well about the dangers that animals on the road in the dark of night.  I laid my 2009 Harley down to try and avoid hitting a black steer on U.S. 221 at Poage Valley Road on Nov. 9, 2012.  Vehicles on the road could have also have hit me but LeAnn Keenan Gregory of Roanoke saw my broken and bleeding form lying in the road and stopped and prevented any others from hitting me. Marc Hirsch, also of Roanoke and who also stopped, helped restore my breathing and saved my life.

Although the odds said I would die from the trauma and major injuries, their rapid actions at the scene and work by the emergency room doctors and nurses at Carilion Roanoke Memorial and a team of orthopedists, psychologists and plastic surgeons brought me back and dealt with many broken bones, a serious brain injury and a heavily damaged face and dislocated eye.

Three other motorcyclists went down with injuries Sunday on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 68 when two groups of riders, riding in opposite directions, came together just after 2 p.m.

Police and Fire Department reports say two of the bikes collided into each other more or less head on and a third crashed while trying to avoid the initial crashes.

Deputies from Amherst and Bedford County Sheriff’s Departments blocked both ends of the Parkway until about 3:30 p.m. until emergency crews cleared the scene.

The riders, not identified in earlier reports, were described by Big Island Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brandon Cocke as middle aged males.  A rescue helicopter took the most seriously-injured driver to Lynchburg General Hospital.

Photos and videos from the crash scene on the Parkway show two of the bikes not damaged that extensively.

Motorcycling is fun and a passion for those of us who ride.  It can lead to injuries and death.  So can driving a car, crossing a street or dozens of other activities that each of us get involved in day after day.

Some question my sanity for getting back on a bike after the 2012 crash left me clinging tenuously to life.  It took more than a year of extensive therapy to get back on my feet.  I continued to drive after a serous crash in 1967.  I continue to ride after my first and, hopefully, only serious motorcycle crash in 2012.

It’s called living.  I may also be insane.  It depends on your point of view.

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