My dear friend, Navy Craig, is gone. I will miss him so much. I feel terrible for his wife, children, and friends.
We had a trip planed... Three days of riding with some of my old friends and Craig was excited to do the ride and meet some new people. We headed out Friday morning, taking our time along the scenic route. We stopped at the sign as you enter the Blue Ridge Parkway and he took a picture of the bikes in front of the sign and sent it to his wife in a text. This was to be his last communication.
Somewhere between mile marker 18 and 19 of the Parkway, cruising through the sweeping curves at 50-60 mph, I look in the mirror... no Craig. I slowed to wait and see if he would appear. He did not. My heart sank. I turned around and headed back North. A couple of turns back I see the belly of his bike against the tree line, maybe 40' from the roadway and I expect to see Craig pacing and cussing... but he's nowhere to be seen.
As I run toward the tree line I see him. He is on his left side against the base of a tree , the bike is on its right side, the back end on top of his legs, and he's not moving. When I get to him his eyes are open, no pulse, not breathing. I know I shouldn't move him but I have to at this point. I grab the bike and pick it up by the rear rim and move it over a couple of feet so I can roll him onto his back. I scream "CRAIG! Come on buddy, CRAIG!". I tilt back his head to clear an airway... there is blood coming from the corner of his mouth. I start CPR... I push down for the first chest compression and hear a clicking and his chest feels like mush. His eyes were looking back at me in a blank stare... That's when I knew.
The sound of a car coming.... They stop when they see me waving my arms. "Call 911!" They grab a phone... "There is no service up here, you must drive until you have service and call... HURRY!".
Another car comes... it stops. A woman who looks just like Kelly Monaco gets out. She says she's an EMT. She rushes to Craig and checks him. A sullen look comes over her face and she says, "Oh, Sweetie, he's gone.". She promises to get a call out and leaves... her daughter didn't need to see this... A van stops. The lady in the passenger seat is a nurse. She confirms the obvious. A couple pulling a camper stop. They give me a bottle of water and wait with me until the ambulance and Park Police arrive.
When the ambulance and police come, they tell me this will take a long time and I need to try to notify his wife. They tell me to ride to the intersection of 664... there is signal there in the parking area... I take Craig's phone and go. When I get some signal I call his wife. No answer. I call back on my phone. No answer, I leave a message. I wait... OK, I call Puss and tell her what happened, I give her the phone number... she says she will drive to their house. I hang up and head back to the scene. The officers tell me that the local police are also looking for her (phone and home address) to notify her. There is no way to communicate from the scene, but much to be done.
Hours go by... the police reconstruct the accident as best they can. Craig's body is taken to the local mortuary. The bike is picked up on a wrecker. Everyone is baffled by how Craig and the bike were positioned and how they got that way... a strange juxtaposition of things indeed.
When it's all said and done and I get back to civilization I call Puss. Craig's wife, Pam, has been notified. I call Pam... she answers... That's pretty much when I lost it. I texted her pictures of the business cards for the funeral home and towing company and told her all I knew.
After that call, I look at the 20 text messages and listen to the 20 voicemails in my phone, make a few calls... the general consensus is that I should go to the Hotel in Lexington and spend the night... no one wants me riding home in the dark by myself in this frame of mind. I agreed. I shoot a group text to the SM City crew to let them know. I jump on the bike and head to the hotel... exhausted... hungry... still can't believe this isn't a bad dream.
As I was riding home today I realized exactly what happened and why things were positioned the way they were...
When the bike left the road it went straight a while, then it kicked sideways. From the marks on the ground, the bike dug in... at that point it must have high-sided Craig off. He slid up to a tree and the bike came down on him, crushing him between the bike and the tree, and falling over across his legs. The bike hit the tree hard enough to bust all the bark off it for a 2 feet long bare spot. With the impact from an 850 pound motorcycle, he never had a chance.
Home now. Been to Craig's house. I gave Pam the phone and the GPS off the bike... She is there with family and Craig's best friend and his wife are there as well. They all wanted the details. I gave them. THAT was very tough to get through. The whole thing seems so surreal...
Craig will be cremated. There will be no official funeral. The family intends a celebration of his life for family and close friends only.
I trust everyone will ride with their passenger pegs down for a while in honor of our departed friend. He served his country all of his adult life and was a father of two. We will miss him... he was a sweet man and a good friend.
HC, that is a magnificent write up, exhibiting much respect for the deceased, those concerned and the reader. My heart goes out to you and Craig's family and friends.
I just came home from a four day ride with a friend who is two years younger than me at age 78 and I think about the what ifs. I already lost a riding buddy who was four years older than me, but to cancer, not riding. Still, its tough to lose a friend and riding buddy, so I have great sympathy for what you are going through - that has to be very hard for you. I admire you for writing about it and sharing that with us, we who did not know Craig as you did.
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2012 Pearl White CCT. Lloyds DR cams, Timing Wheel (+4), Air Filter, 1/4 Turn Throttle Ring, PCV, Tri Oval mufflers, Dyno Tune from Rylan Vos - The Vic Shop: 112/113. Bad Ace Billet tank lifts and Raging Cajun Medium Low & Throaty mufflers added well after the Dyno run.
Wow, so saddened to hear we are another treasured soul down.
Your description and feelings captivated me, not easy to do. Thank you for sharing, how quickly life unfolds and folds, and now he has gone, doing what he loved.
You are a good friend
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My condolences to you and his family. Didn't know him except for his posts here but he seemed like one of the good guys for sure.
Sorry to see him pass.
presently owned bikes
2014 XC 8 ball that no longer stalls
1993 HD fxrp
1982 HD Sturgis
2009 Honda rebel
1991 gl1500 A w/ Champion Daytona 2+2 sidecar.
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