Sometimes “it” Happens

Ed McGrath with his daughters Chelsea and Brittany.

Ed McGrath with his daughters Chelsea and Brittany.

I just got home from attending a memorial service for two lovely people killed by a heroin addict who apparently nodded off and veered into the oncoming lane and struck their motorcycle. This is a tragedy that is made worse by the fact that the two people were father and daughter.

My brother’s deceased friend Ed loved sharing his passion for riding with his daughters…something I have done for many years with Jeannine. The unimaginable happened when something completely out of their control occurred and their lives ended in a flash.

Read the news story.

Read Ed’s obituary.

Read Britanny’s obituaries


Ed was doing nothing to jeopardize his and his daughter’s safety except the fact that they were on a motorcycle. It was 3:30 on a sunny midweek afternoon with good visibility and little risk of drunk or stoned drivers (unlike midnight on a Saturday night). Yet, Ed and Brittany were at the receiving end of a one-in-a-million chance that a stoner would cross the centerline just as they were in the vicinity. Why it happened simply cannot be explained.

Some would say that putting you and a loved on one a motorcycle is jeopardizing your and their safety. And they would have a good argument. I’ve known too many people who have lost their life while riding and there is nothing telling me that that trend will end anytime soon.

The Takeaway

In reality, there is not a lot I can say about the situation that killed my friend and his daughter. It sounds like it happened instantaneously, so that parking lot practice to improve his braking or swerving skills wouldn’t have likely helped.

So, what does this all mean? To me, it is yet another sobering reminder that riding a motorcycle comes with the real risk of death, or worse. I know we all “know” this as fact, yet I’m not sure we really “know” what it means until it happens to us. So, we keep riding, as we should. Just remind yourself from time to time just how vulnerable you are and to not take your safety for granted…it is not guaranteed.

What we can take away from tragedies like this is a renewed diligence to be the best riders we can be. Not only for ourselves, but for our loved ones. The pain and sorrow I saw at the memorial service today is evidence of just how deeply we are missed.

Sometimes, as is the case of Ed and Brittany there is truly nothing we can do to prevent a crash. So, we must decide…do we stop riding? Or do we ride on, knowing the odds are mostly in our favor? You choose.

There is Hope

Thankfully, the vast majority of incidents are avoidable with excellent mental and physical skills.

Do yourself and the people who care about you a big favor and learn all you can about motorcycle safety and refine your control skills and ability to perform evasive maneuvers so that you at least have a chance of avoiding tragedy.

Share your thoughts below.

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Ken is author of "Motorcycling the Right Way” and "Riding in the Zone" (book and blog). He is also the "Street Savvy" columnist for Motorcyclist Magazine, and former longtime author of the Proficient Motorcycling and Street Strategies columns for Motorcycle Consumer News. Ken is Lead Instructor for Tony's Track Days, a 20 year Motorcycle Safety Foundation instructor, and owner of Riding in the Zone Motorcyclist Training.

Posted in All Things Motorcycle, Motorcycle Safety Tagged with: , ,
8 comments on “Sometimes “it” Happens
  1. Jack says:

    Beautiful and true words. Nothing else to add, maybe just that I’m sorry about your friend and his daughter. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Gino says:

    Sorry to hear Ken. My condolences. I’ve had family and friends perish in their cars due to some kind of substance/alcohol use by the other driver. As usual they lost their life while the high/drunk individuals walked away with just scratches. Bike or cage it does no matter.

  3. george roulson says:

    “motorcycles are small, quick, defenceless mammals living in a world of slow moving, slow-responding dinosaurs” Thx Ken for the insight. All we can do is be alert and always wear the maximum protection. check my fb; just posted a video from UK,

  4. Peter Surmanis says:

    Prayers to all involved.
    It’s something I constantly worry about while riding with my son as a passenger. Even with ATGATT, the 1-in-a-million chance that something may happen scares me to no end. But the joys of riding outweigh the risks, so I ride on.
    Safe travels to all.

  5. CG says:

    Sad… a dedicated Father and a loving Daughter… murdered by a drugged-out driver, there are far more drug impaired drivers out there. Devastates families, I hope the family and friends will recover from this tragedy.

  6. Craig Michaels says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your friends,Ken.
    Every time I ride I try to be very aware of my surroundings and what may pose a potential threat.
    You never know what you will encounter on the road,which is why I always ride with armored jacket,pants,boots,gloves & a modular helmet.
    I wish more riders did the same,for everyone’s safety.

  7. Pete Tamblyn says:

    I’m immediately reminded of Larry Grodsky’s death. So sorry for your loss; thanks for sharing your thoughts and how tragic events like this can affect all of us.

  8. So sad on many levels, Ken. Thank you for sharing links to Brittany and Ed’s obituaries: Those are epic lives cut short.

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