Well.... it was quite a day!
On the escort for CPL Ben Kopp from Holman Field in St Paul to Apple Valley there was an accident involving 3 of our motorcycles. The paid "professional" escort rider was blocking a merge area during rush hour and one car struck another one as he was blocking the ramp. The second car then veered into our escort group. The bikes going down were Linda Peshek, Gregg Campbell, and me. Linda was transported to the hospital and was blessedly released with nothing more than road rash, bumps, and bruises.
Gregg's bike had a bump on the exhaust and he drove it away. Linda's and my bike were towed. It is possible my bike will be totalled as the crash bar was folded into the engine area.
We were fortunate in that all the riders were experienced and we avoided what might have been tragic into nothing more than an accident. As Tim Leonhardt pointed out to me if our bikes would have not been there it would have been the hearse or family being struck. I am glad we took that shot as long as everyone is OK.
Our new policy... no debate.. if the funeral home or family has a paid "professional" motorcycle escort we will not do the escorts. He created a dangerous situation for no good reason and we will not expose our people to that again. Aggressive riding creates problems which is why we don't ride that way any longer. I will not watch that situation again occur.
This also brings up the question on people wanting to ride escorts. If the RCIC doesn't know you... he won't ask you. Had "new" riders been on this escort the results could have been far worse and possibly tragic.
A bike on its way to Bird Island today from the metro lost a flag at highway speeds. No matter how checked out a flag, pole, or mount may be our stated policy is that no flags are flown over 35mph. Any member of leadership is empowered to make that call. If there is an issue they will not hesitate to call me to discuss this on the spot with the member. There is a reason for this policy and a flag pole snapping off is the big one.
Situation Three - Sensitive
It is not our job to block media if they are at a mission. If the family requests privacy it is the responsibility of law enforcement to work with them on what is appropriate. In the past we have taken it on ourselves to move flag lines and ask members to help block media from taking photos or getting video shots. Part of our growth is realizing that we can not assume the right to block others rights and freedom of the press. While our hearts are always with the family and their wishes we are also bound by law and the constitution. The media has every right to take photos or videos as long as law enforcement approves of what they are doing.
I know this is tough as we get emotionally involved with the families and trying to give them everything they ask for. Those requests though can not put us in a situation where we take away the rights of someone else no matter our feelings on the subject.
The missions were all accomplished today in spite of the tough things that happened. I remain indebted to you all for the heart and efforts you have all put forth making sure all of our fallen heroes are receiving the respect they deserve. God bless you all...