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Recent crashes highlight motorcycle safety in Butler County

Dewey Ruth
Dewey Ruth

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation is urging motorists to keep the safety of motorcyclists in mind, during this holiday weekend and during periods of warmer weather.

During the past five years, nearly 19,000 motorcycle crashes occurred on Ohio’s roads, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol. These crashes killed more than 800 motorcyclists and injured nearly 14,000. Historically, the number of motorcycle crashes starts to increase during the peak of summer.

“With more than 400,000 motorcycles in Ohio, it’s important for everyone to do their part to safely share the road, especially during the warmer months, when motorcyclists are more likely to be out for a drive,” said Ed Conley, director of Insurance Sales and Financial Services for AAA Ohio Auto Club.

Butler County saw two motorcycle crashes recently that left one man dead and another in critical condition.

Steve “Dewey” Ruth, 61, was found dead June 25 in a wooded area off Ohio 27 in Ross Twp. after what investigators believe was a motorcycle crash two nights earlier. Ruth was found several hundred feet off the road into the woods near Herman Road.

Dave Rader, director of Texas Equusearch Midwest, a non-profit organization that has helped in thousand of searches, was traveling to Hueston Woods on June 25 to continue the search another man who went missing four weeks ago when a member posted information about Ruth and asked it be shared.

He and other members of Equusearch knew Ruth. Rader said he received information that Ruth was last seen at Joey’s Bar on Burlington Road in Springfield Twp. and was heading to the Oxford area and may have traveled on Ohio 27.

Rader said it looked like Ruth didn’t turn and continued straight.

“I don’t think he suffered. He loved his bike, and he rode it to the end,” Rader said.

Ross Police Capt. Patrick Carr said there was no missing report filed for Ruth. But friends started to get worried about him when he wasn’t seen at usual places and started looking for him.

The Butler County Coroner’s Office said Ruth died of multiple traumatic injuries, and his death was ruled an accident.

On June 25, Douglas Best, 54, of Middletown, was riding his Harley Davidson when he crashed into a guardrail on Carmody Boulevard, officials said.

Best was flown by CareFlight to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton where he remains in critical condition, according to a hospital official.

He allegedly was riding his 2015 Harley Davidson northbound on Carmody at “a high rate” of speed when he passed a car in a no-passing zone, then crashed into the guardrail, according to the Middletown Division of Police crash report. He wasn’t wearing a helmet, the report read.

He was charged with reasonable control and no passing zone violations, the report read.

Car and truck drivers need to remember to pay attention to intersections, look over their shoulders before merging, and never tailgate a motorcycle, according to the National Safety Council. Motorcycles can stop faster than cars, and a rear impact at high speed is one of the deadliest motorcycle accident scenarios.

Five ways to reduce the number of motorcycle accidents:

  • Focus on driving, not electronics, food, pets, passengers and other distractions.
  • Look for motorcyclists at all times — they are smaller and much harder to see, especially in traffic.
  • Provide a safe buffer for bikers, maintain a safe following distance and merge carefully.
  • Always signal your intentions and make sure your brake lights, turn signals and horn are in good working order.
  • Never throw trash like cigarette butts out the window — road debris kills riders, so make sure transported items are well secured.

SOURCE: Motorcycle Safety Foundation

AAA encourages motorcyclists to:

• Gear up: Helmets greatly reduce the risk of injury or death in a crash. During the past five years an average of 70 percent of the motorcyclists killed in crashes on Ohio’s roads were not wearing a helmet, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

• Disinfect after filling up: Work to maintain social distancing when filling up at the gas station. Use disinfecting wipes to wipe down the gas pump, screen and touchpad. Use a plastic bag when touching the pump. After filling up, use wipes and hand sanitizer to wipe down your hands and credit card.

• Be visible: Remember, drivers aren’t used to seeing motorcycles on the road at this point of the season. Position yourself in the lane where drivers can see you. Keep your headlight on, wear bright colors and use reflective tape, even in the daytime.

• Be predictable: Use turn signals and avoid lane splitting, which is illegal in Ohio. Armitage recommends driving like you’re invisible. “I assume that person is going to pull out in front of me, or run that red or yellow light, or change lanes without any regard to me,” he says.

• Obey posted speed limits: With lighter traffic on the roads right now it might be tempting to open the throttle. Be sure to obey all posted speed limits, as they are intended to save lives.

• Never ride impaired: In Ohio, 41% of fatally injured motorcycle drivers were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol last year, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

• Protect your assets: Motorcycle insurance is required in Ohio. If you’ve done any work to your bike over the winter, or added any accessories, make sure you have enough insurance coverage for those items, as well as your helmet and leather, in case they’re damaged or stolen.