Wear your helmet. Lt. Morgans story
Lt. Morgan advocate for safety
By ROGER ADKINS, Staff Writer
PARKERSBURG ó A brush with death has prompted a local police officer to become an even stronger advocate of motorcycle helmets.
Lt. Scott Morgan of the Parkersburg Police Department recently returned to duty after spending 10 months recovering from injuries he sustained in a July 2, 2006 motorcycle crash on Grand Central Avenue in Vienna.
Morgan said he was riding a 2003 Harley Davidson motorcycle north in the far right lane on Grand Central Avenue and was approaching 12th Street when a woman driving a Ford Explorer in the center northbound lane made a sudden right turn onto 12th Street from the center lane.
"There was nowhere I could go to avoid the crash," Morgan said. "Her comment was one we hear a lot when investigating crashes involving motorcycles, ĎI didnít see him.í"
Morgan was thrown down on his right side and started rolling forward.
"I felt pressure on my head for a moment," he said. "The rear passenger tire of her vehicle had rolled over my helmet."
Although he sustained numerous injuries, including broken bones, thereís no doubt Morganís helmet prevented grave injuries.
"I know the helmet kept me from receiving injuries to the head and it may have even saved my life," Morgan said.
The helmet still bears scratch marks and other damage caused by the crash.
Morgan had been riding in Ohio all day with a friend on another motorcycle. He said he remembers seeing many motorcyclists out that day. Even before the accident, he was struck by the number of people who were riding without helmets.
"My friend and I had been riding in Ohio throughout the entire day. We probably passed 100 motorcycles. Ninety percent of the riders didnít have helmets on," he said. "We had gotten back to Vienna and were less than a mile from home when my wreck happened."
Even before the crash, Morgan would never ride without a helmet, he said. Now he knows that wearing a helmet could mean the difference between life and death. His advocacy for helmets has doubled.
"Iíve spoken about it at a couple of safety meetings and Iíve voiced my concern to some members of our Legislature," Morgan said. "Every year, some motorcycle enthusiasts try to get the helmet law repealed. I think that would be a very big mistake."
Morgan said if the law is repealed, he believes the number of fatalities in wrecks involving motorcycles will increase.
"I think the number of people killed would increase dramatically," he said. "In police work, we see examples all the time in which helmets save lives."
The most common cause of crashes involving motorcycles is the lack of attention the general motoring public pays to motorcycles.
"The most common reason we hear from people is they didnít see the motorcycle," Morgan said. "People are not watching out for them."
Motorcyclists have to make up for this by being constantly vigilant. Still, that isnít effective enough.
"No matter how experienced you are, a crash can occur at any time without any or little time to react. You have no control over it," Morgan said.
Morgan said he hopes his story inspires people to take the precaution of wearing helmets.
"I do know that an employee of the Athens Harley shop told me his mother read the article on my accident and made him promise to wear his helmet on a trip he was taking to the southern states," Morgan said. "It made me feel good to know that my crash is encouraging people to wear helmets even when it is not required by law."