Saturday, April 27, 2019

United Bikers of Maine Parade Cancelled

Augusta, Maine, USA (April 27, 2019) BSB — The National Transportation Safety Board issued a report April 3 on a fatal 2017 crash during the Toy Run parade, a charity ride organized by the United Bikers of Maine.

The event has taken place for roughly 40 years with as many as 3,000 motorcyclists gathering and joining with the cost of admission being a toy that’s then donated to a child in need. But the Sept. 10, 2017 tragedy has caused UBM to pause and reassess the event for the second year in a row.

In 2018, the group changed the route of the ride to exclude the stretch of Interstate 95 north in Augusta where the crash happened. In 2019, after the release of the report, UBM announced it would cancel the parade indefinitely.

“If it’s too big to manage, then we need to take a look at it,” said Sandy Lyle, the public relations director for UBM.

The 15 page NTSB report outlines that the one of the motorcyclists, 25-year-old Aaron White-Sevigny of Windsor suddenly crossed from the right to the left lane of the highway and smashed into a pickup truck driven by William Nusom. The truck then spun across the highway, killing another motorcyclist, 58-year-old Jamie Gross, and injuring six other people.

UBM and the Augusta Police Department are cited by the NTSB in its report for not mitigating safety risks like having a state trooper present for the parade.

In past years, a state trooper had been present to manage the highway portion of the ride where Augusta Police have no jurisdiction, but in 2017, there wasn’t one.

“If a state trooper had been there or wouldn’t have been there, that’s Monday morning quarterbacking,” said Lyle. “Safety is paramount.” This year, UBM says it is proceeding with an abundance of caution and will only collect toys at the Augusta Civic Center.

The group’s president, Dave Hasey, says bikers can come and go on their own as they please, but there will be no formal group ride. “The safest move for motorcyclists all the way around was not to have the parade,” said Hasey. “It was a very hard decision.”

The bikers say there is a small chance that a better safety plan could bring back the parade in years to come.

Augusta Police Chief Jared Mills released a written statement earlier this week on the NTSB report saying the department “has the utmost respect for NTSB” and “their best practices will be applied” to city procedure going forward.


Friday, April 12, 2019

Indian Motorcycle Factory Catches Fire

Spirit Lake, Iowa, USA (April 12, 2019) BSB — Spirit Lake Fire Chief Patrick Daly said crews responding to a Wednesday morning fire at the Polaris Indian Motorcycle factory were immediately confronted with heavy smoke, but the actual fire was relatively minimal.

Firefighters were paged at around 10:15 a.m. the chief said, and entered the building soon after arriving.

"At that time, we called in Arnolds Park/Okoboji, because we knew we needed more manpower and more (self contained breathing apparatuses) to get into the smoke," Daly said. "The building's so big, and you only have so much air. They came up to help us, and we finally got to the source of the fire."

He said crews typically send firefighters in to situations in pairs, with another pair waiting outside in case something should go wrong. Wednesday's operation was large enough that Daly called the AP/O Fire Department for mutual aid and additional manpower. The fire chief said the flames were largely contained to the paint booth area of the motorcycle manufacturer's plant.

The paint booth was being removed and the process sparked the fire as work was being done on the chimney section.

"This morning, a minor fire occurred in a vacant section of our Spirit Lake facility," Polaris spokesperson Jess Rogers said, thanking the Spirit Lake Fire Department for its fast response. "The facility was evacuated. There are no injuries to report, and the facility will resume normal operations tomorrow."

Spirit Lake firefighters responded to a fire at the Polaris manufacturing plant in Spirit Lake Wednesday afternoon. The crews called for mutual aid from Arnolds Park-Okoboji Fire and Rescue, due to heavy smoke and the size of the facility. Photos by Seth Boyes

Daly went on to say the fire spread into the styrofoam insulation in the facility's roof, and firefighters ultimately cut a hole in the roof to stop the damage from spreading.

"Once we got the styrofoam out, we could start venting the building," Daly said. "Actually, we had a really good breeze coming through there, so it was natural ventilation. Once we got in there, we could get right to the machine."

The paint booth's own fire suppression systems were triggered, according to Daly, but couldn't stop all of the flames.

"They had sprinkler system in there, but it didn't get up through the styrofoam where we were at," he said. "It put the fire out that was down below. It just made so much smoke you couldn't see anything."

Firefighters cut a hole in the facility's roof. Fire Chief Patrick Daly said the morning's gusty winds helped ventilate the smoke. Photo by Mike Ehret - Dickinson County Emergency Management

Daly said Dickinson County Emergency Management Coordinator Mike Ehret assisted on scene with the county's drone, which was fitted with an infrared camera. Ehret was able to provide firefighters with photos of the roof as they attacked the fire. Crews had the fire under control at around 1:30 p.m., according to Daly.

"Polaris' evacuation system worked very well. Everybody was out of the building when we got there," he said. As of Wednesday afternoon, Daly said Polaris' maintenance staff was still ventilating the building.

"It's pretty clear," Daly said. "But you can still smell it in there, so they want to make sure that's all out of there before they send their crews back in to work."

SOURCE: Dickson County News

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

DA dismisses remaining 24 Twin Peaks biker cases

Waco, Texas. USA (April 2, 2019) BSB — Almost four years after nine bikers were killed and 20 were injured during a shootout at the former Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, McLennan County District Attorney Barry Johnson said Tuesday he will dismiss all criminal cases against the remaining 24 defendants charged in the midday brawl.

Johnson inherited the Twin Peaks cases when he took office in January, and said he has spent 75 percent of his time since then with a team of prosecutors and investigators trying to determine how to resolve the remaining cases.

Johnson's decision Tuesday means that no one will be held accountable for the multiple deaths or injuries or for the chaotic battle between heavily armed, rival motorcycle clubs waged in a crowded shopping center parking lot while families were on their way to lunch after Sunday church.

In announcing his decision, Johnson said it is time to "end this nightmare that we have been dealing with in this county since May 17, 2015."

"There were nine people who were killed on that fateful day in Waco, Texas, and 20 injured, all of whom were members of rival motorcycle clubs, and the loss of life is a difficult thing," Johnson said. "But after looking over the 24 cases we were left with, it is my opinion as your district attorney that we are not able to prosecute any of those cases and reach our burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt."

About 200 bikers were arrested after the shootout on identical charges of engaging in organized criminal activity and held on $1 million bonds each. Former McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna sought indictments against 155 bikers on those identical charges and chose to try Jacob Carrizal, the Bandidos Dallas county chapter president, first.

Carrizal's case ended in mistrial in November 2017, with most of the jurors in his case favoring acquittal, and no other defendant has been tried since.

The way Reyna handled the Twin Peaks cases was the centerpiece of Johnson's campaign, and he defeated Reyna in the March 2018 Republican primary by 20 percentage points. After the primary, Reyna dismissed all but 24 of the remaining Twin Peaks cases. The special prosecutors appointed to handle four of the cases after Reyna recused his office also were critical of the manner in which the cases were handled and dismissed them, also.

Reyna sought to re-indict the remaining two dozen, mostly on riot charges. Other charges that may have been possible arising out of the melee, such as attempted murder, aggravated assault or felon in possession of a firearm, were barred by three-year statutes of limitation before Johnson took office, he said.

"Following the indictments, the prior district attorney had the time and opportunity to review and assess the admissible evidence to determine the full range of charges that could be brought against each individual who participated in the Twin Peaks brawl, and to charge only those offenses where the admissible evidence would support a verdict of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt," Johnson said in a statement.

"In my opinion, had this action been taken in a timely manner, it would have, and should have, resulted in numerous convictions and prison sentences against many of those who participated in the Twin Peaks brawl. Over the next three years the prior district attorney failed to take that action, for reasons that I do not know to this day," he said.

Carrizal is among those whose cases are to be dismissed. Johnson noted that his trial cost $1 million in preparation and trial costs, plus an additional $500,000 in security and overtime pay after county officials ratcheted up security for his trial.

"To open that Pandora's Box back up and start down that road again when we don't feel that, after looking at the facts and the evidence, that we would be able to meet our burden of beyond a reasonable doubt would be irresponsible, in my opinion. Therefore, I am making the decision now to end this nightmare that we have been dealing with in this county since May 17, 2015," Johnson said.

While the criminal cases will be dismissed, more than 130 of the bikers have civil rights lawsuits pending against Reyna, former Waco Police Chief Brent Stroman, the city of Waco, McLennan County and individual local and state officers who were involved in the arrests.

Dallas attorney Don Tittle represents about 120 of the bikers in their civil lawsuits.

“Maybe if law enforcement had stuck with the original plan to focus on individuals who might have been involved in the violence and let the rest of the motorcyclists go after being interviewed, things would have gone differently, Tittle said. "It’s hard to imagine that turning the operation into a dragnet wasn’t a major distraction for the investigation, not to mention a public that grew increasingly skeptical as this thing played out. All this for an ill-advised attempt to prove an imaginary conspiracy theory, which to this day there’s not a shred of evidence to support.”

Bandidos who cases will be dismissed include: Ray Allen of Krum; Jeff Battey, Ponder; Jacob Carrizal, Dallas; John Guerrero, San Antonio; David Martinez, Terrell; Tom Mendez, San Antonio; Marshall Mitchell, Longview; Jerry Pierson, no address available; Marcus Pilkington, Mexia; Glenn Walker, Copperas Cove; and Reginald Weathers, Forney.

Cossacks with cases set for dismissal include: Mitchell Bradford, Gordon; Aaron Carpenter, Gatesville; Roy Covey, Clifton; William Flowers, no address available; Rich Luther, Cossack; Wesley McAlister, Gilmer; Jacob Reese, Mount Pleasant; Owen Reeves, Bruceville; Timothy Satterwhite, Gordon; and Kyle Smith, Kilgore.

Others whose cases will be dismissed include Richard Cantu, a Machateros from San Antonio; Nathan Champeau, a Scimitar from McKinney; and Richard Lockhart, a Companero with no available address.