FOND DU LAC COUNTY -- Fond du Lac County Sheriff's officials say they're still trying to determine what caused a driver to plow into ten motorcycles Thursday, May 31st, as they were heading back to Michigan after a visit in Milwaukee. One motorcyclist was killed and nine others were injured, including the car's driver. Sunday, June 3rd, a group gathered to pay their respects to the Michigan man who was killed.
The group came Sunday to the location where they say they were expecting the body of 59-year-old Daniel Lee Winsemius to be transported back to Michigan on a ferry boat. The group included motorcyclists who didn't necessarily know the victim, but are united in the tragedy.
"Motorcycle accidents happen, but this one was horrific. None of the people that are here with us today even knew any of the people who were riding affected by this, but the motorcycle community is tight-knit community and when we lose one of our family, it affects all of us," Greg Rodd with ABATE of Wisconsin said.
ABATE of Wisconsin is a motorcycle rights and safety organization. Rodd says throughout the motorcycle community, there's a close brotherhood and sisterhood.
The Fond du Lac County Sheriff's Office says a southbound vehicle, driven by a 25-year-old man crossed the center line on Highway 151, striking the 10 motorcycles traveling northbound.
Nine people were taken to the hospital. Five ambulances and three medical helicopters were called to the scene. Three motorcyclists were transported to Theda Clark Hospital via Flight for Life with life threatening injuries. Five motorcyclists were transported to St. Agnes Hospital by ambulance with non life threatening injuries.
"Anytime a biker goes down anyplace, it's devastating, but this one I think was especially devastating. It involved so many bikes," Diane Rodd with ABATE of Wisconsin said.
"When you hear of stories like this, it's just so traumatic. Whether you do or do not know that motorcyclist personally, you're still impacted by it," motorcyclist Wendy Mueller said.
Greg Rodd says his organization tries to raise awareness of motorcycles among drivers, in hopes that people traveling by vehicle take their time.
"Look for that head light and make sure there are no bikes around before they pull out," Greg Rodd said.
Bikers say when crashes like Thursday's happen, it hits close to home.
"It makes you nervous and it really makes you think, and I hope it makes other people think about what can happen," Diane Rodd said.
The Fond du Lac Sheriff’s Department released the names and conditions of the nine injured motorcycle riders:
- Marvin John Vanderkolk — 63 yrs old, Fruitport, MI — St Agnes Hospital (Treated & Released)
- Eric Charles Vandam — 52 yrs old, Muskegon, MI — Theda Clark – Critical Condition
- William Brad Groom — 57 yrs old, Muskegon, MI — No Injury
- Garry Lee Ferris — 52 yrs old, Muskegon, MI — St Agnes Hospital
- Douglas Wayne Williams — 58 yrs old, Muskegon, MI — Theda Clark – Critical Condition
- Leland Roe Johnson –58 yrs old, Muskegon, MI — St Agnes Hospital
- Lawrence Charles Monroe — 59 yrs old, Muskegon, MI –St Agnes Hospital (Treated & Released)
- Douglas Allan Yonkers — 43 yrs old, Muskegon, MI — Theda Clark– Critical Condition
- Paul Czekus — 57 yrs old, Ravenna, MI — St Agnes Hospital (Treated & Released)
Two other riders in the 12 man group missed the collision and were not injured. They are 58-year-old Guy Vernon Weersing of Muskegon, MI and 51-year-old Mark Steven Messany, also of Muskegon.
The investigation into this incident is ongoing, but officials say speed does not appear to be a factor in this crash.
Sheriff's officials say the Calumet County man who struck the bikes will be arrested as soon as he’s released from the hospital. He’s wanted on felony bail jumping, and will possibly face homicide by negligent operation charges.