Don't sensationalize motorcycle death

It is maddening that every time something happens like this incident in which our daughter was killed that the authorities and/or media try to find something to make an accident darker or lay off the blame on the victim. The official accident report is blaming the accident on my daughter drinking coffee while riding. I cannot say either way if she was drinking coffee or not, though I do know that she had drinks in the cup holder on her bike quite often. If you watch, many riders have cup holders on their bikes.

The officer to whom I spoke about Brianna's accident indicated that he did not know who made the call, but the caller apparently did convey information that Brianna crossed the yellow line and had crashed into the guard rail after making a correction to get back on her side of the road. I have no doubt that is what happened, but did the caller also say that she was drinking coffee? Or, during the investigation was the cup found, and it was assumed she was drinking coffee when the accident happened? The officer told us - my wife and I - that the caller who witnessed the accident had left the scene before he arrived at the site.

Assuming she was drinking coffee, I have been a rider in the past and can attest that when you are cruising along, your left hand is not regularly in use . the hand one would use to handle a drink cup. The throttle is on the right hand. Also, at speed, a motorcyclist uses the handle bars to steer the bike only minimally. As simply as I can describe it, at speed, the rider steers simply by shifting their weight. Again, the left hand is not in use, so if a drink is being held, the distraction minimal. Also, most people I know can hit their mouth with a cup without much effort so from my point of view, coffee was probably not much of a distraction.

And then there is the "rider was not wearing a helmet" quote that always follows the report of a motorcycle accident. Well, Colorado does not have a mandatory helmet law, so no law was broken, so why even mention it? In this case, according to the coroner, her wearing a helmet would have done nothing but extended her inevitable death and cause unnecessary pain and suffering. So the "rider was not wearing a helmet" quote is nothing except another media attempt to turn public sentiment against the motorcyclists.

As her father, I believe my daughter was a safe rider. We had numerous conversations before she purchased her bike and many afterward about the risks and the necessity to ride with care. (For information purposes, I have been involved in bike accidents, both the fault of careless automobile operators.) Brianna rode her bike for pleasure and for work, including the times in which she worked in Silverton, and rode her bike back home in Mancos after dark. Surely the road from Durango to Silverton is much more treacherous, especially after dark, than the ride from Durango to Mancos, and she had no problem negotiation that road.

So what happened? I do not believe it was careless riding but was more probably inexperience. The day of the accident was the first time she rode with her new mustache bars installed, and her position in the bike with her feet resting on the bars changed the dynamics of the bike at speed. Possibly by the time she realized that she was in trouble, she did not have time to get her foot back in riding position to slow the bike with the rear break. All and all, it was simply an accident that took her life, and there was no reason to slight her memory.

Some will say that this is a father and mother grieving, and certainly a portion of this is exactly that, but we considered this from a larger picture and decided that it is more than that. We, as are many of our friends and family, are tired of the powers that be sensationalizing sensitive situations with uncompassionate insensitive claims that are painful to the families and accusing to the deceased who cannot defend themselves.

Robin and Donna Schmittel

Mancos