A young Mason County man out for a Sunday afternoon ride on his Harley is dead after cresting an enormous hill out in the rural eastern part of the county.  The local newspaper reports this evening:

Mason County Sheriff's Office reports fatal motorcycle accident in Sherman Township Sunday

A 32-year-old Mason County man is dead after driving his motorcycle into the back of a pickup truck.
The accident occurred at 12:19 p.m. Sunday in the 3100 block of Reek Road in Mason County's Sherman Township.
According to Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole, a 28-year-old Mason County man was traveling south in his Chevy Silverado on Reek Road when he slowed down for a dog that was running along the edge of the road, stopping just over the crest of a hill.

The 32-year-old man was also traveling south on his Harley Davidson motorcycle, when he did not have enough time to react to the stopped pickup truck.
The driver of the motorcycle was pronounced dead at Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital.
The motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

Speed and alcohol cannot be ruled out, pending toxicology results and crash re-constructionist reports, Cole said.
The Mason County Sheriff's Office, Life EMS, Fountain Area Fire and Rescue and the Michigan State Police all responded to the scene.
The case remains under investigation by the Sheriff’s Office and names are being withheld pending family notification.  COLDNews 7-22-18  

The site of this accident is rather unique in Mason County in that as you approach the peak of the hill from either side you have signs warning of limited visibility like above.  And as you approach the peak it almost seems as if you are going over a cliff as you can't see the other side until you get to the very top.  I've noticed this effect on my bicycle riding here many times, but in my best form I'm lucky to be going 12 mph at the peak. 

On a motorcycle, it can be tempting to go at a good clip and perhaps get a little air at the apex, but travelling south you're coming up to the driveway of a farm on the east side which could have implements crossing the road, or animals getting loose, which seems to have caused the truck to slow or stop in this instance.  

I investigated the scene late this afternoon after it had been cleared.  They still had pink paint markings on the pavement and off the road, some of these were along the skid marks definitely made by a motorcycle some went further.  It was clear the biker had applied his brakes just after the peak, but the length of the skid marks indicated the Harley must have been going too fast.  The marks ended abruptly.  

There is always a lesson in accidents like this, and I think there's a big one here.  When you crest a 'blind' hill like this on a motorcycle, or other vehicles capable of going fast, you need to heed your speed and be ready to stop.  If there wasn't a truck slowing for a dog, there could just as well been a dog itself, a pedestrian, a deer, a farm animal ready to ruin your day.  The county has properly put a caution sign there. 

Definitely an unfortunate accident, yet it looks like an avoidable one for those willing to learn from it.  Please ride safely, and sincere condolences to the family and friends of this man.

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Replies to This Discussion

Maybe what should have happened long ago is for the Mason County Road Comm. to fix this problem permanently with excavation and leveling this dangerous slope/hill.

It isn't the road's fault that this accident happened. There are several roads with this same problem in central Mason county  and fixing them all would be prohibitive. I feel for his family.

That's right Willy, it's the MCRC's fault that this road remains as dangerous, they have the power and equipment to cure the problem. The road is man-made, not nature's cause. And the pickup truck should have pulled to the shoulder, so it's partially his fault too. And perhaps the biker was speeding or intoxicated too, then it's his fault too. The MCRC is lazy and inept for the most part, and they make flimsy excuses for their incompetence for over 40 years I have talked to them.

I am not averse about blaming road engineering, but I don't really want to go there in this instance.  I don't think this has happened in the past on Reek's Peak, at least not fatally, so I would encourage the MCRC to investigate the issue and see whether there's something more they can do to avoid problems in the future other than the warning signs about 'limited visibility'.

I must agree with Aquaman that the truck driver should have been wary that stopping/slowing where he did was dangerous.  There really isn't a shoulder present there, that could be a possible remedy from the MCRC, you have a ditch alongside the road currently.  In hindsight, if the opposite lane was free from vehicles, which it is 98% of the time, the truck should have travelled there to avoid the dog by the side of the road.  It still wouldn't have saved the rider from the possibility of getting in his own accident with the dog after he crested the hill.  

With the amount of rubber laid down, I surmise the rider was going too fast for that spot even if he had been going the speed limit or less.  Barring the MCRC doing something new with it, the lesson for future motorcyclists is clear:  approach the top of that peak at a slow to moderate speed, there could be any type of hazard waiting for you that you won't be able to stop for in time.

We have to stop blaming others for our careless behavior or for unavoidable circumstances caused by natural occurrences such as blaming deer that cross roadways. What if it had been a child crossing the road and was hit instead of a truck slowing down, would anyone have all this sympathy for the motorcyclist. Let's call this what it is. Reckless/careless operating of a motorcycle!We have to stop blaming others for our careless behavior or for unavoidable circumstances


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