Spate of biker crashes kills 4

Bobby Bower was on leave from the U.S. Navy when his 2008 Suzuki motorcycle crossed to the wrong sid

Bobby Bower was on leave from the U.S. Navy when his 2008 Suzuki motorcycle crossed to the wrong side of the road and struck a parked vehicle.

Investigators from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department haven’t determined how fast the 21-year-old Amsterdam man was going, but the predawn crash was violent enough that he was pronounced dead at the scene Sunday. Bower’s death was the fourth fatality in a spate of motorcycle crashes between late Friday morning and early Sunday morning.

“We believe speed was a factor,” Undersheriff Jeffery Smith said Monday, adding that investigation into the crash is ongoing.

The bloody weekend started with the death of 42-year-old Paul Mendoza of Ballston Spa as he rode his motorcycle around the Great Sacandaga Lake.

Deputies with the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department say he was headed east on North Shore Road in Day when he lost control of his 2012 Triumph and struck a boat trailer parked on the side of the road.

The following day, a turning motorist pulled in front of a couple on a motorcycle on Route 22 in the Washington County town of White Creek. Steven Susee, a 24-year-old volunteer firefighter from Salem, and his 19-year-old girlfriend, Shirley Waite of Cambridge, were thrown from the bike. Both Susee, who had a young daughter, and Waite were pronounced dead at the scene.

State police cited 48-year-old Jeanmarie Reid for failing to yield the right of way at the county Route 68 intersection.

Meanwhile, Warren County Sheriff’s Department investigators are still investigating a fourth accident in Bolton that left a 49-year-old Scotia man gravely injured.

Timothy Wood was riding on Lake Shore Drive near county Route 11 on Saturday when his 2007 Yamaha struck a guardrail.

Both he and his passenger, 49-year-old Teri Costello of Schenectady, were thrown from the motorcycle. Wood suffered a serious head injury and was listed in critical condition at the Albany Medical Center hospital.

Costello, who was pitched down an embankment following the crash, suffered an injury to her left side that is considered serious. She was listed in fair condition at the hospital Monday.

Ironically, the cluster of accidents came during what authorities were describing as a rather tame Americade weekend in Lake George. The annual motorcycle rally — which draws roughly 50,000 bikers and is often billed as one of the largest in the country — usually brings its share of motorcycle crashes.

Motorists traveling on the state Thruway were even warned to be on alert for motorcycle riders. Electronic message boards posted along the major thoroughfare blinked the safety warnings throughout the weekend.

But this year, the rally was relatively uneventful for police. Lt. Robert Smith said the crash in Bolton was the only time the Warren County Sheriff’s Department had to dispatch the traffic accident reconstruction team, an indication that there weren’t any other serious crashes around the lake over the weekend.

“It was quieter than normal,” he said of the rally. “Fewer arrests and fewer problems.”

But that was just around the lake. Police elsewhere in the Capital Region contended with a slew of motorcycle-related issues that typically occur each spring.

“Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for this time of year,” said Sgt. Daniel Larkin, the traffic supervisor for state police Troop G.

He said many of the crashes are preventable and usually the result of an error by the motorcycle rider or a motorist who misjudges the speed of the motorcycle. He said motorcycle riders are 37 times more likely to die after a collision than occupants of a car or truck.

And that’s assuming that the biker is obeying the speed limit. Larkin said the odds of a motorcycle rider living through a high-speed crash are almost nil.

“Your chances of survival are so thin,” he said.

That hasn’t stopped an increasing number of riders from taking high-speed jaunts around area highways.

Larkin said an increasing number of reckless riders are pushing their motorcycles well beyond highway speed limits.

On Saturday, troopers chased a Latham Fire Department lieutenant and his female passenger on an eight-mile dash that reached speeds of nearly 150 mph on Interstate 87.

Nabeel Saeed, 23, eventually complied, perhaps because his “unwilling passenger” no longer cared to be riding on the motorcycle.

Saeed was charged with reckless endangerment, unlawful fleeing and numerous other violations. He was arraigned in Clifton Park Town Court and freed on $1,000 bail.

“If he had crashed he would have killed both of them,” Larkin said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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