Denise Crosby: Hit-run puts focus on FV motorcycle deaths
By Denise Crosby email@example.com May 19, 2012 5:22PM
Updated: July 1, 2012 11:46AM
I have to think that whoever hit Max Torres on his motorcycle a week ago has been following the news.
I hope that driver of the white Chevrolet Traverse SUV now knows the 23-year-old man — who had been on life support at University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago — died early Wednesday evening.
The driver also should know that when it was time for Max’s large, close-knit family to let him go, there was at least comfort in knowing his corneas and heart valves would be given to another needy family through Gift of Hope — thanks to Max having signed an organ donor card.
But his loved ones continue to struggle with the fact the hit-and-run driver has not come forward. Police say the SUV, heading east on Benton Street in Aurora, pulled in front of Torres and his 1990 Honda motorcycle. Authorities say the driver had to know the SUV hit Max’s red motorcycle. In addition to the impact, witnesses saw the white Chevrolet speed away after the collision.
I assume the driver knows police are aggressively searching for this SUV. (They released a photo of the vehicle Thursday and believe the Chevy Traverse is a 2009 to 2012 model.) It would make a whole lot of sense for the driver to turn himself or herself in and face the consequences. By now, this unknown person must also realize that with Max’s death, the charges are more serious.
Accidents do happen. In fact, just three days after Max was hit at the intersection of Hill Avenue and Benton Street, another motorcycle driver, 37-year-old Christopher Glover of Montgomery, was killed when an 18-year-old turned in front of his Kawasaki motorcycle on Route 30 near Prescott Drive, according to police.
Last month, a car driven by an East Dundee woman collided with a motorcycle after pulling out onto Route 25 from Balmoral Drive there. Police said the biker, Patrick McDougall of Carpentersville, was driving at the posted speed limit and had no time to react to the sudden appearance of Donna Fritz’s vehicle. She was killed, and McDougall was seriously injured.
Last August, Francisco Acevedo of Elgin died after the bike he was riding collided with an SUV that pulled out onto Walnut Street from Moseley Street in Elgin. Like the white SUV driver, Michele Higarena of Elgin had also left the scene of the accident, police said, but police found her a few blocks away after speaking with witnesses.
“It seems like we are seeing more of that kind of thing — in the paper and on Facebook,” said Chris Tracy, whose family members have been longtime owners of Fox Valley Cycles in Aurora, where Max had just bought a pair of riding gloves before he was hit.
It’s this time of year where we see an uptick in motorcycle accidents, according to Guy Tridgell, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Plus, he said, the price of gas has contributed to more bikes being on the road. And that’s why IDOT, in conjunction with several motorcycle groups and the Illinois State Police, kicked off the “Start Seeing Motorcycles” campaign during this, Motorcycle Awareness Month. Motorcycle fatalities accounted for 16 percent of total fatalities within Illinois in 2011. And research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists are about 39 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in traffic crashes. Tridgell said the campaign also reminds motorcyclists of their responsibilities as well, which include being alert to other drivers and wearing protective gear.
Max Torres’ family is trying to find as much positive as they can as they mourn . In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be sent to Gift of Hope.
They also want the driver of that SUV to come forward. Yes, accidents do happen. But the longer this investigation goes, the worse it becomes for everyone involved — including those who loved Max Torres.
There are people following this story who know something. It’s time to do the right thing.