Summer bikers ride with risks

By Deanna Hohler Bottar Published:

But when the fall happens at highway speeds on motorcycles, the bumps and

bruises of yesteryear frequently escalate into broken bones and head injuries

that doctors and nurses sometimes can't help heal.

James P. Guy, 36, and Joe A. Guy, 10, both of 326 Franklin St., Ravenna,

know how painful the healing can be.

For the past two weeks, the father-son duo has been hospitalized at Cleveland's

MetroHealth Medical Center after a motorcycle-car collision on S.R. 59 June

28.

Until Thursday, James Guy was being treated in the hospital's surgical intensive

care unit. He was listed in ``stable'' condition on a regular floor Saturday.

Joe Guy's condition has been stable for the past few days, according to

a hospital spokeswoman.

Both were thrown from the motorcycle when they reportedly attempted to pass

a line of about three stopped cars on the two-lane roadway. As the lead

vehicle began to turn left into a private driveway, the Guys' motorcycle

crashed into the left front of the vehicle as they attempted to pass, according

to the Ravenna Post of the Ohio Highway Patrol.

The motorcycle came to rest in a nearby field. It is estimated to have been

traveling about 53 mph in a 55 mph zone when it collided with the car. Joe

was wearing a helmet. His father wasn't, reports show.

``They hit the pavement,'' said Ravenna OHP Sgt. Michael Guarnieri, of motorcycle

crash victims, many of which barely survive. ``Of course, these people are

going 40, 50 and 60 mph when they hit the pavement. We encourage them to

wear protective motorcycle gear, leather equipment, heavy boots, padded

gloves. When you're padded like that, you can hit the pavement and it doesn't

take off about a pound of your flesh. It's foolish to ride a motorcycle

with a T-shirt and shorts on.''

Ohio law does not require motorcycle operators to wear helmets except if

they're under age 18 or the passenger of an operator who is younger than

age 18. Otherwise, motorcyclists must only wear protective eye gear.

Some riders wear helmets, many of which have safety features like face guards

and sound systems that allow a motorcycle operator and passenger to converse

or listen to the radio.

But even with the improved level of safety offered by today's helmets, plus

an approved appearance, not everyone buys them.

``A lot of people don't wear helmets because they don't like them,'' said

Gary Carlton, whose parents, Gary and Jane, own Carlton Harley Davidson

on S.R. 44 in Mantua. ``Some people think they look stupid, and some people

think it's their choice. A lot of people will come in here and buy helmets

if they're going traveling, just so they'll have them in those states that

require them.''

The Carltons recommend new motorcycle operators take a safety course offered

at Lakeland Community College to acquaint people with the proper methods

and safety techniques for proper motorcycle operation, Gary Carlton said.

The Guys' crash wasn't Portage County's first serious motorcycle incident

this year. On May 24, a 33-year-old man was killed when he went off the

road and hit a pole on S.R. 303.

Some motorcycle fans, like Carlton, say it's the drivers behind the wheels

of cars who create hazards for motorcyclists, but others contend the small

size and speedy nature of motorcycles sometimes create havoc on roadways.

The Ohio Highway Patrol contends operators of motorcycles and drivers of

cars both need to be on their toes when they're on the roads.

``Last year, there were 300 deer accidents that our post wrote reports on,

and I know there were a lot others,'' Guarnieri said. ``We've had some serious

motorcycle accidents where people have hit deer or other animals, a dog

or a possum.''

Guarnieri also said the frequent complaints car drivers lodge against gravel

trucks that sometimes spray loose stones, chipping paint jobs and windshields,

create perilous problems for motorcyclists.

``I can't even imagine what it would feel like if you're going 55 and you

meet a gravel truck going the other way,'' Guarnieri said of a motorcycle

operator without a helmet or face shield on.

So far this year, 14 people have died as a result of traffic crashes on

Portage County's roadways. There have been 12 fatal crashes, two of which

were double fatalities. One person has died as a result of a motorcycle

incident, Guarnieri said.

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