Questions to Ask About the Masten Motorcyclist Crash

A collision between a motorcyclist, later identified as Devon Newberry Adair, 33, and a 16 year old car driver, led to the death of the biker and some body damage to the car's driver's side.  As reported in the Mason County Press:

LOGAN TOWNSHIP — A 33-year-old man driving a motorcycle died Friday evening following a crash on Masten Road between Hawley and Lucek roads. According to Mason County Sheriff’s Office deputies on scene, the motorcyclist was traveling southbound on Masten Road. Witnesses say the motorcycle was weaving, possibly to avoid a deer. The motorcycle then struck a northbound Toyota Camry with four occupants head-on. The motorcyclist was declared dead on scene. None of the occupants of the Toyota were injured.

A later MCP article would indicate: 


"Emergency personnel were dispatched at 8:31 p.m. to the scene located between Hawley and Lucek roads. According to Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole, Adair was driving a 1995 Yamaha motorcycle southbound on Masten Road when a deer ran into his path.

“It appears Mr. Adair attempted to avoid the deer and in doing so lost control of his motorcycle and crossed the centerline of the road,” Cole said. Adair then drove into the path of a northbound 2003 Toyota Camry, striking it head-on. A 16-year-old male from Milford was operating the Toyota, which also had three occupants, all minors."

TORCH ANALYSIS:  Having some knowledge of the motor vehicle code, a 16 year old driving with three other minors is a violation of MCL 257.310e(6)(b) unless these minors are members of the same family or the driving is being done as part of the driver's job, or they are driving to or from work.

The chances that a teen from Milford (in Oakland County) is in the remote SE corner of Mason County doing something concerning a job at 8:30 PM on Friday night with three other minors aboard seems remote, so why isn't this being investigated and having him held to some account?  Maybe the sheriff has a soft spot for the child since he was the victim of a motorcyclist driving into him.

But things don't seem to add up when one looks at the provided evidence.  The Ludington Torch went to the scene earlier today about 20 hours afterwards and found it was mostly cleaned up of debris, which is standard sheriff procedure after extensive records are made showing where debris landed, where damage occurred to both vehicles, the injuries to the deceased, etc.  About the only thing that was noticeable was the brake marks on the road, determined to be the motorcycle's since only one line of brake marks was visible (this can be seen in the picture above from MCP) when I viewed the scene.

Noting that these kids would likely have about a 15-minute wait for a response, this gave them plenty of time to create and agree on a story of what happened and move some things around to back up that story-- not saying they did, but the opportunity was there since not a lot of people travel there at that time of night.  A comprehensive investigation should figure out that was the case should one be pursued where the sheriff would use the Bosch CDR tool to figure out what happened with the Toyota Camry pre-crash along with using debris-physics and the bike treads to determine whether the alleged incident fit the facts.  

The treads are instructive for anyone with experience riding motorcycles, and one expects this wasn't the 33-year old's first time out.  The story is that the bike was traveling south on Masten, but the tracks are only in the northbound lane.  If one is to believe the driver's version, the biker's side is unavailable for some reason, the bike veered to avoid the deer into the opposite lane with oncoming traffic, started to brake far to the left of the lane and then resumed a path while still heavily braking going straight and directly into the path of the oncoming vehicle.  We are looking south in the picture.

What seems a lot more probable with the brake pattern is that the biker was northbound driving a couple of feet from the center and saw the car coming into his lane.  Perhaps the inexperienced Camry driver, likely driving in an unlawful manner, saw a deer (there is no report of a deer in the biker's version of events) and moved over.  There is no evidence shown that the car driver applied their brakes.  An experienced biker would start applying his brakes and trying to veer off the road on his side to avoid an almost certainly fatal crash with the car, choosing the better survivability of going into the ditch.  

It would have been easy enough for a scared teen to turn the car around to make it appear as if the driver was headed north and move around some of the physical evidence to support that story.  If that's the case, any reasonably complete investigation will figure that out, and maybe justice can be applied to the minor likely driving the car illegally.  If he hadn't been on the road, Devon Adair would be able to be riding today and we wouldn't have a young widow and at least one child who will never see their father again.

                                                     Devon Newberry Adair with child

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Replies to This Discussion

LThanks for your comments RK. Consider another possibility: maybe the young driver did not brake for whatever reason. For if he did brake, would there not be dual skid marks even with ABS working or not.  Even a quick brake may have avoided the accident. It seems I've seen intermittent ABS-activated skidmarks from heavy braking. If his ABS failed at the time of impact, when we assume the front driver's wheel was pushed sideways, it may be why there is just that one skid. We won't know if the kids don't tell the truth. They still may have been breaking the law by driving without an adult present. But I agree, that swapping the car into the other lane is a far-fetch.

According to the police report, the motorcycle crossed over into the oncoming lane. The way it is laid out, this happened in an instant. Why would anyone even think that the teen could have avoided the collision if only he would have applied his brakes sooner or harder? This as all a shoulda, coulda, woulda argument we are having. I suppose if the teen would have been in the car alone then this never would have happened. Why no speculation on the cycle being driven in a reckless manner or traveling over the speed limit or even being on the road when lighting conditions are at their worst? Did the cyclist have a current license that permitted him to operate a motorcycle. Were alcohol or drugs involved by either driver? If fingers are going to be pointed at the teen then those same fingers should be pointing at the other vehicle operator as well. Will the cyclist be issued a citation if he was in fact responsible for a traffic violation?  A lot of unanswered questions with no real details yet. Only guesses. If I were the sheriff, I would get the most experienced accident inspector from the State Police to do the investigation. 


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