As early as 8:15am this past Sunday morning, September 2, 2012, Melrose police received alerts from civilians and fire fighters alike concerning a collision at a four-way intersection where Green and Franklin Street meet Main Street. At a red light, a sixty-one year old man from Everett on a yellow Harley motorcycle waited for the light to change with a Hyundai sedan idling behind him. When the light turned green, the Hyundai proceeded forward. But the motorcycle hadn’t yet moved.
According to witnesses and resulting police reports, the sedan struck the motorcyclist, knocking him off his vehicle. The car then backed up, rolling over the man and drove forward again, repeating this action several times. Police reports say that the motorist, Eugene Ledonne, 76, of Stoneham then got out of the car while witnesses helped the victim, walked over to the man he had just hit, said “I’m sorry,” and returned to his vehicle. Police say the driver then reversed his car several hundred yards and fled the scene.
Recordings from witness camera phones were credited with helping the police make an expeditious identification of the driver. Although it is presently unclear as to how much of the collision was caught on video. Ledonne informed the police that he was heading to work when travelling on the northbound road. He also explained that after initially striking the motorcyclist he blacked out and wasn’t able to recall anything that happened afterwards. Police however described Ledonne as being physically capable and mentally alert in their report.
During a brief trial hearing on September 4, 2012, Tuesday morning, Ledonne pleaded not guilty in a Malden District Court to charges of fleeing the scene of an accident and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. The pre-trial hearing for the case will be held on September 26, 2012 and Malden District Court Judge Matt Nestor ordered Ledonne to not drive until the hearing, at least, and to stay away from the victim who is still in the hospital with broken bones and internal injuries. Ledonne was released on $300. His lawyer, Paul Chomko, chose not to speak with reporters and his family shielded his face with a raincoat as he exited the courthouse.
Although, at this point, the onus for the collision appears to be on Eugene Ledonne, I feel inclined to include a list of safety tips for motorcyclists from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website because of the inherent dangers that come with motorcycling, and its rising popularity. Also, as this story indicates, when it comes to a collision between a motorcycle and a car, the car often wins.
Safety Tips for Riders
When you ride your motorcycle, follow these tips to stay safe:
• Always wear a DOT-approved helmet.
• Never ride your motorcycle after drinking. Alcohol greatly impairs your ability to safely operate a motorcycle. If you have been drinking, get a ride home or call a taxi.
• Don’t let friends ride impaired. Take their keys away.
• Wear protective clothing that provides some level of injury protection. Upper body clothing should also include bright colors or reflective materials, so that other motorists can more easily see you.
• Avoid tailgating.
• Maintain a safe speed and exercise caution when traveling over slippery surfaces or gravel.
As always, if you, or someone you may know, have any concerns, questions, or a need for consultation, please feel free to contact Altman and Altman at any time. And stay safe.