JPD: Racing could be factor in fatal motorcycle crash

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Jonesboro police said there were signs of hazardous driving at the scene of the fatal sport bikes collision on West Parker Road Tuesday night.

According to the police report from Sergeant George Martin, 22-year-old Douglas Matthews, Jr. was traveling west near the On Target Family Sports Complex on a red Honda CBR sport bike when he struck a green Kawasaki sport bike 22-year old Joshua Townsley and 20-year-old Brittany Townsley were riding as Joshua was making a U-turn.

Matthews, Townsley and passenger Brittany Townsley were all thrown from the motorcycles.

The police report indicated several fresh tires marks were on the street that were not related to the crash, but suggested the possibility of hazardous driving and racing.

Matthews was pronounced dead at the scene.

Joshua and Brittany Townsley were airlifted to the MED in Memphis Tuesday.

Regional Medical Center staff told Region 8 News Wednesday afternoon that Brittany Townsley is no longer at the MED, and Joshua Townsley is in critical condition.

Patrolman Rogan Ross said Joshua is scheduled for surgery Wednesday.

Kent Gibson teaches basic and advanced riding courses at Arkansas State University.  Gibson said the need for speed is often why people choose the smaller sport bikes.

"The body posture on a sport bike is low and in. This is for speed. It's like the jockey position on a horse. You can just see going fast in this position."

"With sport bikes it's really easy to get carried away. You know they can go fast, so you want to go fast," said JPD patrolman Rogan Ross.  "You really need to adhere to the speed limit because there's not really a whole lot keeping you safe on that motorcycle."

Patrolman Ross said the three people involved in the accident were wearing protective gear.

"It is tragic that one person did lose their life, but it appears as if the people that survived, it appears as if they were wearing their helmets and (the helmets) probably helped them a great deal."

Gibson said people fail to consider the increased speed compared to the ability of riders to react to road conditions and environment.

"Sport bike riders don't realize that when traveling, say, 100 miles an hour, the reaction time for the average human is one second. In that time, the distance traveled is over a football field in length. So, when they perceive a hazard, they do 100 yards down the road before they even touch their brakes. That's a huge factor in sport bike crashes."

"Ultimately it's not the style of bike. It can be a sport bike or it can be a cruiser. It's the operator that's accountable for safety."

The family of Douglas Matthews, Jr. searched Wednesday along the area where the collision occurred for Matthews' wedding ring and placed a cross at the spot where police recovered his body.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been set.

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