Saturday, July 2, 2011

Last Chance Clean and Sober Motorcycle Club Members On Way To Friend's Funeral Killed by Drunk Driving Retired Police Officer

Posted by: Noël Jones

This is a great tragedy, and an ironically cruel one. According to JD Malone in his article for the Express-Times, several motorcycle gang members were involved in a crash with a pick-up truck yesterday on Route 512 in Bangor, while on their way to another motorcyclist's funeral. This particular motorcycle club, Last Chance, is a group of men who have come together as a support group to overcome addiction, so unlike a lot of the stereotype depictions of motorcycle gangs that we see in movies or on T.V., we are talking about people brought together for a common cause and mutual support, that simply love the freedom of the open road and not driving in a "cage" (as motorcycle enthusiasts often refer to cars). They were all wearing helmets. The investigation as to the cause of the crash is still underway.

It is a tradition among motorcycle gangs to drive en masse to funerals
of fellow members and rev their engines as an expression of grief and fellowship. The idea that these riders were probably on their way to do just that at a friend's funeral when they were involved in this accident--losing two more members--seems particularly cruel.

I found this youtube video from a funeral in Texas where a motorcycle gang of Christian patriots took the funeral tradition a step further, and actually used their numbers and their noise to drown out protests from that despicable church group that has been going around protesting at the funerals of gay soldiers across the country.

My heart goes out to the riders and their families and friends in this tragic time, and I will continue to post updates in the comments to this post as we learn more information. I welcome anyone who would like to post condolences or comments to post them here.


noel jones said...

the latest update from Jim Deegan of the ET is that apparently the pick-up truck, coming in the opposite direction, plowed into the group of motocyclists, killing two and wounding six:

this is really sad and terrible...

noel jones said...

The coroner has now identified the two bikers that died as Michael Zadoyko, 47, of Pompton Lakes, N.J., and Keith Michaelson, 52, of West Milford, N.J.

The driver of the pick-up truck is John P. Heaney III, 49, of Lopatcong Township.

Apparently the pick-up driver was drunk, drifted out of his lane and plowed right into the rider in front and then everyone else. This is such a tragedy. These men have wives and children, and now they don't have their husbands and fathers because of some drunk asshole's decision to drive his vehicle.

This is a tragic example of why it is so important for public officials like Councilman Jeff Warren and State Rep. Joe Brennan to be penalized for their DUIs. Their decisions to drive at over twice the legal limit, is no less an example of dangerously bad judgment than this pick-up driver made. They just got lucky (and we got lucky), that they didn't kill anyone. But they easily could have.

But what do we do in Easton when our public officials--the Head of Public Safety no less--are busted for driving while intoxicated? Nothing. And then everyone--people like this pick-up truck driver-- everyone else thinks drinking and driving is no big deal, and they can do it to. Meanwhile the lives of good people are devastated.

I am really upset about this senseless tragedy. My heart goes out to the families of the victims...

Untouched Takeaway said...

I live on the Portland/Mt Bethel border and often take 512 to mechanic is on that road (Carl @ Impeccable Auto - he's fabulous!) and I frequent the coin/collectible shop in Bangor.

That is a very deceptive road. It appears to be easily navigable, but it has twists and turns and weird angles. People will roar up your behind when you're driving what you think is a safe speed (and I always do at least the limit as weather/visibility permits).

My condolences to all involved.


noel jones said...

thanks for posting, UT--611 is really tricky and curvy too--the idea of anyone deciding to drive drunk through all those S curves gives me chills.

Anonymous said...

they didn't crash. they were killed by a drunk driving cop.

Anonymous said...

There must have been 100 people at Keith's second memorial service last night, I can only imagine what Mike's is going to look like tonight..

These men were loved by many, men women and children alike and were respected in their communities. This truly is a terrible trajedy, cumulatively Mike and Keith were almost 40 years sober, just living their lives and enjoying what they loved.

So please, let's get the facts straight. These law abiding citizens were killed by a DRUNK RETIRED POLICE OFFICER. Instead of riding the bend in the road, he barreled through the pack.

Did you know that Mike had just given his youngest daughter a bicicle for her 14th Birthday? Or that Keith's brother had to identify him at the scene??

The next time you have too much to drink and get behind the wheel, just think of Keith, his two daughters and widow...Mike's three children and bloved wife..then ask yourself; is it worth it?

noel jones said...

Anons--thanks for posting--after reading your comments I found this article in the Slate Belt section of the ET, that explains that the drunk driver was a retired police officer:

this story has developed slowly over the last few days, so i will edit the title--you're right, even though they were killed in a crash, i wouldn't want anyone just browsing the headlines to think that they themselves crashed, rather being hit by a drunk driver.

my condolences to the friends and family of these men...

Dennis R. Lieb said...


You may want to reword the title to this post. It seems to say that the drunk driver was the one on his way to the funeral. I'd say this:

"Last Chance Clean and Sober Motorcycle Club" (not gang) Members - on Way to Friend's Funeral - Killed by Drunk Retired Police Officer

Maybe not a big deal, but this is a sensitive issue and might warrant another look.



noel jones said...

Good point, Dennis--I edited it again--thanks.