A little while back, at an event for riders of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, I met Ralph William Carroll Jr., (right) a 59-year-old Master State Trooper from Stanleytown who enjoyed riding Harleys.
Caroll, of Stanleytown, died Friday when his northbound bike collided with a southbound car making a left turn on U.S. 220 in Henry County.
Carrolll was just two years younger than me and, when we met, we talked at length about older riders, reaction times and the dangers of riding bikes on roads where cars change lanes and make turns without looking.
"We can have all the training in the world but when a car pulls out or turns in front of you the force of physics takes over," he said.
State Police Sgt. Bob Carpentieri says around 1:00 p.m., a car driven by 20-year-old Christopher Cunningham was in the center turn lane on Route 220 in Bassett Forks. Cunningham then turned left, in front of Trooper Carroll, who was riding his 1986 Harley Davidson motorcycle southbound on Rt. 220.
Carroll hit the passenger side of the car, and was thrown from his motorcycle.
EMTs airlifted Trooper Carroll to Roanoke Memorial Hospital, but he later died.
At least once a week, I have to take evasive action on my motorcycle because some inattentive driver pulls out in front of me, changes lanes without signalling or turns in front of me. All to often the drivers of these cars are talking on cell phones, talking to a passenger or doing something else that distracts them from concentrating on the road.
A lot of State Troopers ride bikes. Master trooper Keith Gregory, assigned to Floyd County, rides a Yamaha and we talk often about bikes and traffic safety.
Carpentieri says charges are pending against the 20-year-old driver of the car.
I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to know Carroll. Bikers are a close-knit group. It’s always tough when we lose one.
(Photo courtesy of Virginia State Police)