Jerry Rhodes, 62, was killed in a New Jersey car accident after his motorcycle was struck by another vehicle, which officials say, was attempting to make an illegal U-turn. According to a news report in The Star-Ledger, the fatal motorcycle accident occurred on Route 94 in Sussex County. Rhodes, a Fair Lawn resident, was driving his 2003 Harley Davidson south on the two-lane state highway in Hardyston when he crashed into a southbound Ford Expedition SUV that was driven by 42-year-old Jason DeLeeuw. Rhodes was transported to an area hospital where he died. Officials issued DeLeeuw summonses for making an improper turn and careless driving. No one else was injured.
I offer my deepest condolences to the family members and friends of Jerry Rhodes for their tragic and heartbreaking loss. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
New Jersey Motorcycle Accident Statistics
According to the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s 2010 Crash Statistics, there were a total of 69 motorcycle accidents statewide in which 72 people were killed. A majority of the motorcyclists who were killed were over 40 years of age. Also, 12 motorcycle accident fatalities were caused by other drivers who made unsafe left turns or U-turns. Unsafe speed, driver inattention and failure to follow the rules of the road were contributing factors in a majority of New Jersey motorcycle accidents.
Based on this news report, it appears that the driver of the Ford SUV, DeLeeuw, was attempting to make an unsafe U-turn and failed to yield right-of-way to the oncoming motorcyclist. In this particular case, the driver has also been charged with careless driving. Under NJSA 39:4-7: “A person who drives a vehicle carelessly, or without due caution and circumspection, in a manner so as to endanger, or be likely to endanger, a person or property, shall be guilty of careless driving.”
Fault and Liability
If DeLeeuw is determined to have been at fault, in addition to facing criminal charges, he can also be held civilly liable for Rhodes’ wrongful death. Families of deceased victims in such cases where negligence is involved can file a claim seeking damages to cover losses such as medical expenses, funeral costs and lost future income. Victims’ families would be well advised to contact an experienced New Jersey personal injury lawyer, who will fight for their rights and ensure that the negligent parties are held accountable.