The neighbor who watched the crash wanted to share his thoughts with me this morning at the accident scene. Although distressed, he encouraged me to ride more carefully in the future, as if I had been involved.
Yesterday when I arrived at our hotel in the late afternoon, the desk clerk was so thrilled to see me.
"I'm so glad you're OK! I saw on the news a woman had been killed on a motorcycle right down the street and I was worried it was you."
Upon reaching my room, I read the article and realized the accident occurred about a mile away.
33-year-old Shawna Elaine Throneberry was riding her motorcycle when a car turned right in front of her, causing a collision. California Highway Patrol Sgt. James Nabors said the driver of the car did not see the motorcycle when she was making a left-hand turn.
I felt compelled to go to the accident scene this morning, just to say a little prayer. The small cross mounted on the street sign was surrounded with debris and sand from the accident. As I knelt down for a moment, seeing the broken bits of motorcycle at my feet sent shivers of reality up my spine.
This could me be. This could be any of us.
Even if Shawna had been riding 15 miles over the speed limit, according to authorities, the car rolled through the stop sign turning right without stopping. Shawna was turning left at the same, tight residential intersection and the two collided in the middle of the street. The driver of the car never stopped at the intersection and never saw the motorcycle until Shawna's helmet came through the cager's windshield.
"It tore her stomach out of her body when she hit the car," her friend told me.
There beside the school yard, Trina approached the makeshift cross with her hands tucked deep in her pockets, obviously wracked with despair. Friends with Shawna and her partner, the two of whom had relocated to Bakersfield from Tennessee recently, Trina wanted to pay her respects.
"I don't know how you do it. I don't know how you ride those things," Trina said as she motioned towards my parked motorcycle.
We both stood in silence for a long while, staring at the broken motorcycle waste that lay at our feet.
I thought of my grandson who will be born any day now. I thought of my family, my friends, my husband. . . I hoped they would never stand where I was standing now.
"We all ride fast, now and then. It's hard not to pull back on that throttle sometimes, because it feels so good," I explained.
"The Army didn't kill her, but the bike did."
According to authorities, no arrests have been made and the driver was not found to be at fault for the accident, since the motorcycle was allegedly speeding. It is completely unfair that even though the driver never stopped at the stop sign and never saw the motorcycle, the possibility that the motorcyclist was speeding 10-15 miles per hour puts her totally at fault, overriding any fault of the driver.
For me, the death of this rider served as a reminder that cagers don't see us, riding is dangerous and life isn't fair.