If you have ever driven California’s Ortega Highway, known to locals as “The Ortega” you know what a beautiful drive it is. To a motorcycle rider it is also a truly great ride. Unfortunately, it can also be a very dangerous one.
On Sunday, October 2, 2011 at around 1:45 PM a 39 year old motorcycle rider from Anaheim, California was riding East on the Ortega, along with two other friends on their bikes. He was riding a 2009 Kawasaki sports bike. As he passed the Lookout bar and started down the hill towards Lake Elsinore, his Kawasaki motorcycle hit the side of roadway and he lost control. He was thrown off his bike.
A fellow rider on a 2007 Suzuki motorcycle struck the 39 year old rider from Anaheim and ran over him in the crash, causing the death of the rider from Anaheim. The 39 year old who had been riding the Kawasaki sports bike was pronounced dead at the scene.
A third rider, a 22 year old man, had to hit the brakes and had to lay his motorcycle down on the road to avoid hitting the other riders or their motorcycles. Both of the riders who survived the crash were treated at a local hospital but their injuries do not appear to have been serious.
The California Highway Patrol closed the Ortega after the crash. People trying to drive the highway from Orange County were stopped by the CHP at the intersection of the Ortega and Antonio Parkway. Those drivers then had to drive back to the 5 Freeway and take the long way around on the freeways to get back to the East side of Lake Elsinore.
Comments posted to the local paper by those who drive the Ortega regularly expressed feelings of anger with the motorcycle riders who use the Ortega, calling them “crotch rockets”. The complaints were that the motorcycle riders engage in speeding and other dangerous driving on the roadway. Many commented that the only reason for the accident and crash were excessive speed as the riders started down the back of the mountain after passing the Lookout bar.
The Anaheim man’s sister, however, posted a heartbreaking post on the local newspaper that suggests a different cause for the crash. It read “To my little brother…Only you can tell us what happened, some day..The ignorance of others holds no value in our eyes, as we know how safety conscious you were, a very intelligent engineer, you had years of riding experience, you were not a novice, but a genius. We LOVE you and will miss you dearly…Until God brings us all together again, Love, Your Sis-”