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Posted on Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Family thinks helmet could have saved their son's life in fatal motorcycle crash

By John Counts

It was 82 degrees with low humidity and light wind the day Scott Pohl died.

This is significant because a motorcycle was not Scott’s primary transportation. He usually drove his pickup to work.

Text messages between Scott Pohl and his father about motorcycle helmet use

Here are text messages between Scott Pohl and his father, Karl, on May 23. These text messages were written after Karl saw his son riding his motorcycle down the driveway without his helmet on. Karl left his son a voice mail letting him know he wasn't happy. The exchange followed about an hour later.

SCOTT: I made it to work safe and sound with my helmet on. I didn't appreciate the attitude you gave me....however I understand where your coming from. I'm always going to be more of a risk taker then you ever were. That's where I get a thrill out of life. You may call it stupid but I call it living. I hope you can understand that.

KARL: I just wish you were of the same mind set you were when you first got your cycle......talking about head injuries etc.

SCOTT: I didn't lose that mind set. I sure as hell don't want a head injury. Priority #1 is not to go down to begin with. I wear my helmet all the time except for the short distance I just went on. I was just giving it a try. I say a prayer every time I get on my bike too. I ask to be protected. It makes me feel safer so I hope you can relax a little more. My goal is 100% not to get hurt......Love you Dad!

KARL: I was relaxed when you told me you wouldn’t ride your bike without a helmet......I'm not sure what changed...I love you too.....I just wish you would wear your helmet all the time. "

Scott Pohl died exactly one month later, after an SUV turned into his motorcycle’s path. He was not wearing a helmet, and suffered traumatic head injuries.

Scott’s shift for most of his six-day week started at 4:30 p.m. But on Fridays and Saturdays he’d start at 7 p.m., which is also significant.

It is why he was headed east on North Territorial Road in Salem Township at 6:32 p.m. on the second day of summer, approaching an SUV driver who never saw him coming.

Scott bought the black 2007 Honda Shadow VLX in April, the month lawmakers lifted Michigan’s mandatory helmet law. Increasingly, he rode helmetless.

Karl Pohl texted his son on May 23, begging him to wear his helmet.

Scott responded he loved his dad, and more.

“I'm always going to be more of a risk taker then you ever were. That's where I get a thrill out of life. You may call it stupid but I call it living. I hope you can understand that,” Scott wrote.

“I say a prayer every time I get on my bike too. I ask to be protected. It makes me feel safer so I hope you can relax a little more. My goal is 100 percent not to get hurt.”

He died exactly one month later, after the SUV turned into his path.

Both parents—divorced for some years, but close friends still—blame the state’s new helmet law.

“When they changed that law, I thought it was stupid. I didn’t know it would affect me like it has,” Karl Pohl says. “He very well may have survived that crash.”

Adds Scott’s mother, Linda Doyle, “The worst pain in the world is losing your children.”

There is a reason she said “children.”

‘An all-American kid’

Karl Pohl taught physical education in Fowlerville schools until his body was overtaken by the rheumatoid arthritis that gnarled his hands. A related bone infection claimed his right leg below the knee. He retired due to his disabilities.

A love of athletics was passed along to the youngest of his three children. As a center on the Class A football squad at Howell High School, Pohl was 6-feet, 1-inch tall and weighed 240 pounds.

The 2005 graduate was named first team all-state by The Detroit News and The Detroit Free Press, and honorable mention all-state by the Associated Press.

Scott was also the Highlanders’ homecoming king, and loved outdoor pursuits like deer hunting and bass fishing.

“He was the all-American kid,” his father says.

After graduation, Scott had a few offers to play college ball. But he studied welding for two years in high school, and the trade would pay off.

Scott landed a union welding job when he was 19. A member of Sheet Metal Workers 292, he was working at Durr Systems Inc. while living with his dad in Livingston County’s rural Marion Township. The company mostly manufactures large-scale equipment for the auto industry.

“He was doing really well,” Karl Pohl says. “He was making more money than any of his friends who went to college.”

‘Mom, I live life on the edge’

The job was not close, about 45 minutes away in Plymouth. Scott set off to work the night of June 22, his helmet stowed in the right saddlebag of his motorcycle.

Scott bought the Honda Shadow in March. He received his motorcycle certification in April.

Though the new law says an operator must be certified for two years before going helmetless, Scott began riding without one.

At first, when Scott was at his mother’s house with the bike, he’d wear his helmet. Then she caught him leaving without it.

“I yelled at him, of course,” she says. “He’d say, ‘Mom, I live life on the edge.’”

She took some consolation that Scott was not inexperienced.

“He’d been on dirt bikes and four-wheelers a lot of his life. It’s not like he didn’t know a lot about bikes.”

Now, she says, “I hate even seeing motorcycles, period, anymore.”

‘She never saw another vehicle’

The road Scott crashed on runs mostly through farmland in northern Washtenaw County. “It is a very nice drive. I can see why he took that way,” says his father.

These are the moments just before and after the crash, according to police and coroner reports obtained through the Freedom of Information Act:

It is 6:32 p.m. The Ford Explorer heading toward Scott is driven by 18-year-old Julia Hamilton. Her 14-year-old brother, Josh, is in the passenger seat.

They had stopped to get ice on their way from one graduation party to another that Friday evening. Hamilton now stops and waits for an oncoming vehicle to pass before turning left toward where the party is being held

“Julia then heard and felt a collision. She thought the collision was at the rear of the Explorer. (She) pulled the rest of the way into the driveway and stopped. She stated she never saw another vehicle or motorcycle,” according to the state police report.

Karl Pohl was told his son went through the motorcycle’s windshield and hit the Explorer’s side.

Scott was still alive -barely. He was airlifted by helicopter to the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor.

About 25 family members and friends were allowed to say goodbyes before life support was removed. Scott Pohl was pronounced dead at 4:53 a.m. on June 23.

“Life’s just so fragile,” his father says. “You see this kid in the hospital bed. He’s such a strong kid. You’re touching him and feeling his muscles and everything. It didn’t matter how big or strong he was.”

Both parents believe Scott might have lived had he been wearing a helmet. Doyle said they asked doctors that question.

“They said it certainly would have helped,” she says. “But they could not say 100 percent.”

“I hate even seeing motorcycles, period, anymore.”

A double tragedy

In the autopsy report, the medical examiner noted Scott was “the un-helmeted driver of a motorcycle” who died from “traumatic head injuries due to a motorcycle-SUV collision.”

“The manner of death is accidental,” the report says.

The teen driver has been charged with a moving violation causing death, a misdemeanor carrying a maximum one year in jail and $2,000 fine. She is to be arraigned in Ypsilanti on Dec. 10.

“We’re going to vigorously defend her,” says her lawyer Michael Vincent, who also suggested Scott might have lived had he wore his helmet. Scott's parents retained an attorney and are planning civil litigation, but that is a ways off. Both feel sorry for the girl.

“It was an accident,” Karl Pohl says. “She’ll have to live with the consequences of that. That’s why people should wear their helmets. If you’re wearing your helmet, people won’t die and people won’t have to deal with the consequences of having killed someone.”

Police reports are usually emotionless, a “just the facts” recitation of what an officer observes. Scott’s is no different.

A state trooper, arriving on the scene, described seeing “a downed damaged motorcycle. A helmet was observed in the right satchel of the motorcycle. A few feet from the motorcycle (lay) a young man bleeding from the head and left hand. His right cheek was in contact with the road. (He was) breathing poorly in a puddle of blood.”

The report does not capture the pain of two parents who have been here before. Scott’s older brother, Danny, died four years earlier.

He too was 25, and his death involved a motor vehicle.

In 2008, Danny’s body was found in front of Doyle’s Genoa Township home in Livingston County one autumn morning. The jealous boyfriend of a girl he was seeing had just gotten out of jail. There was a 2:30 a.m. confrontation and the man ran Doyle over with a pickup. The man spent three years in prison for the incident.

Pohl and Doyle now have one living child, 31-year-old Kristy Anderson of Morrisville, N.C. They lament she’ll grow old without her brothers, that her baby girl will never know her uncles.

“You get used to having three kids,” Karl Pohl says. “You get used to having them around for Christmas and Thanksgiving. … And now their sister is by herself. She’s not going to have anyone.”

Their pain is compounded by one other fact, and this is significant too.

The motorcycle was bought with $4,000 Scott received from his share of a family insurance settlement.

It came from his brother’s death.

John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 4:51 p.m.

First and foremost are the condolences to the family of the young man who lost his life in this tragic accident. That said, in my opinion, this article was irresponsible journalism, and could very easily "ghost written" by the lawyer retained by the young man's family to help set the stage for a big payout in a civil law suit. That is as much a tragedy as the accident itself. There are facts in this article that are clearly incorrect. There is no "arraignment" taking place on 12/10 of this young female driver. A hearing is planned for after the first of the year. The lawyer retained by the young female driver's family was quoted in the article, yet had no knowledge this article was even being written. The entire tone of the article, including the photos provided by the family, would certainly bias anyone reading it entirely toward the side of the young man who lost his life, with no regard for the young woman and young passenger who will have to live with this for their entire lives. This was sadly an accidental death, plain and clear. Let both families deal with the healing that must go on here, and keep the "ambulance chasing" lawyers who only make things worse, out of it!!


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 5:45 p.m.

This is a sad story, and my heart goes out to the family, especially since I often ride my motorcycle down that same stretch of road. This and the other recent Washtenaw County motorcycle fatality remind me of the importance of being visible when riding a motorcycle. The stats I've seen show that 2/3 of motorcycle accidents are caused by a car driver not seeing a motorcycle and pulling into their path. With that in mind, it's fairly amazing that the vast majority of motorcycle riders (whether they wear a helmet or not) choose to wear black or other dark clothing. I've read several studies (in both the U.S. and overseas) that show that wearing high visibility clothing can reduce a motorcyclist's chance of being in an accident by over 40%. In fact, the U.S. military mandates that all motorcyclists wear a high viz jacket or vest when riding on base. I know that riding a motorcycle is inherently more dangerous than driving a car and that you certainly can't prevent all accidents, but if wearing the proper gear can significantly reduce my odds of being hurt in an accident, I think that's the smart thing to do.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.

A very sad story. My heart goes out to the family. I can't imagine losing a child at a young age. Someone close to me was riding his motorcycle on 94, going 70 m.p.h., far left lane. His was a sport bike-what they call "donor bikes" in hospitals, because the body is faced forward, which means the head is likely to sustain the major injuries leaving the organs in tact. A driver lost control directly in front of him, swerving across all lanes. He's a very experience motorcyclist, but here was no time to react. He hit the car and flew over it, landing on the pavement. When the ambulance arrived, he was unconscious. His injuries? A dislocated shoulder, mild concussion, and broken thumb. But you should see his equipment. Massive gash on the side of his helmet, and the leather on the back of his jacket burned all the way down to a hole. The doctors said his equipment (he wore full leathers) saved his life. (But it doesn't take a rocket scientist or a doctor to have come to that conclusion.) He has no lasting injuries from that accident. His wife and two young children are forever thankful to still have him in their lives. Please share this story with anyone you know who insists that with this type of accident, it doesn't really matter whether you have a helmet or not. Complete and utter foolishness.

A A Resident

Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 10:17 p.m.

Mr. Pohl, I'll add one more thing: Rather than suing the gal who made the driving error (we've all made driving mistakes), might it be possible to sue the anti-helmet lobbyists, and politicians who voted for the repeal, for fraud or negligence? I suspect that there's enough good data to back up the claim, at least the negligence part.


Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

My sympathies to the family for their losses. It's ironic that the law allows you to go helmetless after two years of having a motorcycle license. Even if the motorcycle driver is experiencetheir has no bearing on the experience level of the drivers in the other vehicles on the road. The helmet law was originally enacted for safety purposes just like the seat belt laws. They encourage people to take safety precautions. There will always be those that completely disregard safety and that is their choice, but it does impact the rest of us. Consider a crash where having a helmet on might allow a motorcycle driver to maintain better control of the vehicle so that more people aren't hurt. It's why we have all of these safety devices to protect drivers in cars, so that they can maintain control if possible. (Never made sense to me why bus drivers aren't equally protected.) I hope that the helmet law is revised again to require helmets regardless of "experience".

A A Resident

Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 10:59 a.m.

It's sad that a few here are parroting the claims of the anti-helmet lobby, without doing some more thorough research. Yes, total motorcycle deaths may be down slightly this year (85 versus 89 for the same period last year). But let's not pretend that reductions in total deaths have anything to do with repeal of the helmet law. Since the repeal, during a two month study period, deaths among helmetless riders involved in accidents were three times as high as drivers wearing helmets. Any general reduction in total deaths is more likely due to ABS brakes becoming more and more common on motorcycles, which has been an enormous help in preventing riders from going down. So as a lifelong motorcycle rider, I'd like to take some of the anti-helmet or pro-choice riders to task for their irresponsible claims. It is people like you who give riders like the man who died a false sense of security, or lead them to believe that they haven't substantially increased their risk, so you can share some of the blame. Shame on you!


Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 5:25 a.m.

it's just bad any way you look at it


Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 4:31 a.m.

Motorcycles are just plain dangerous no matter if you wear a helmet or not, after my first close call I sold it with no regrets, regardless of the law in many cases it doesn't matter. Terrible for both parties.


Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 4:29 a.m.

I have ridden motorcycles for 17 years. I understand that by doing so I am putting my self at more risk for personal injury than I am when driving a car. I believe that wearing a helmet is the main thing that can help prevent one of the worst injuries that can happen to a rider - brain injury. A helmet will not guarantee that a rider will not be killed but it certainly can make the odds better. I not only believe in helmet use but full face helmet use. I have slid down broken pavement on my face before and if I had not had that chin guard it would have been my chin and face taking the brunt of it. A motorcycle rider should not be so naive as to think he is the only one who will be effected by a head injury. His family and everyone he knows will be affected, not to mention the rest of us who will foot the bill for a lifetime of treatment. I was strongly against Gov. Snyder signing that bill and when he did it he lost future support from me. My heart goes out to this family. This need not have happened to them. Yes, Gov. Snyder should be forced to read all such accounts.


Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 3:54 a.m.

As in an earlier story...Tragic but thank you for writing it as you did. It is hear wrenching to read, but lessons for sure. As a lifelong rider I've never understood how/why you would go without a helmet.


Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 2:51 a.m.

This is sad. He was an experienced rider it seems, after the mandatory helmet time in the law, it was his choice. Accidents happen. "That's why people should wear their helmets. If you're wearing your helmet, people won't die and people won't have to deal with the consequences of having killed someone." The girl didn't kill him his injuries did. They parents should not sue this young lady. Their son made a choice as a grown man, and in the unsettling facts that there actually was an accident, his choice limited his options. Many times people still die with their helmets on. Imagine the accidents where a rider is decapitated... Helmet didn't save them now did it? I believe the seat belt law should be the same. I know friends who survived auto accidents b/c they weren't wearing their seat belts, and friends who have died b/c it held them in place. Cautionary are the reasons to the laws. You never can predict the actual outcome of an accident.

Frustrated in A2

Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 2:46 a.m.

This article and others like it should be sent to Gov. Snyder so that he can see the effects of this law. My heart goes out to this family and others in a similar situation. Is it worth the extra tourism dollars this new change in the helmet law is supposed to bring in???

Frustrated in A2

Fri, Dec 7, 2012 : 11:07 p.m.

The article I read the other day said motorcycle fatalities has increased in the county and I'm sure that's a statewide trend so the union busting governor won't be getting a gift basket from me anytime soon. Actually more like never!


Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 4:43 a.m.

So what if someone studies the accident further and determines that the G's he experienced would have killed him even with a helmet. ...which happens in racing and car accidents all the time. Would you apologize to Gov Snyder for your error?? LOL When you do some more research and find out that motorcycle deaths have gone down since the law passed, would you apologize to him even more? ...maybe send him a gift basket to show your sincerity? LOL

Ann English

Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 1:31 a.m.

It sounds as if Scott hit the right rear corner of Hamilton's SUV. So she DID see one oncoming vehicle, and yielded the right of way to it? I wonder if just a short stretch of the opposite lane was visible to her. I still think of a sedan-motorcycle accident on Nine Mile Road in Whitmore Lake, in which the sedan driver turned left into a church driveway and a motorcyclist coming from the opposite direction DID collide with the right rear corner panel of the car. But the driveway was at the top of a hill to the west, so neither person had a good, long-distance view of the road ahead of him. I think even the "cheap" helmet worn by that motorcyclist limited his injuries. I don't remember any bleeding.


Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 12:03 a.m.

Whatever else might be true, this family lost a loved one and still is in mourning. Yet the band of usual suspects make the predictably heartless and unfeeling comments about this tragedy. Unfortunately, this is all too common.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 7:39 p.m.

Thank you for this thoughtful comment. I too am appalled by the commenters who seem to forget this family has suffered an enormous tragedy. My heart and prayers go out to this family.

Wolf's Bane

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 11:45 p.m.

Thank you Gov. Snyder.

Seasoned Cit

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 9:44 p.m.

Tragedy Yes.... but to blame the State when their son made the decision to not wear a helmet is an example of expecting Govt. to take care of us even when we don't care enough to do something ourselves. It always sounds good to pass a law to protect folks.. like don't drive when drinking, or buckle up for safety and that's when many humans say.. you can't force me to do that. Remember when the law said we had to have your seatbelt buckled before the car would start ??? And it didn't take very long before it was overturned. It took a lot longer to reverse prohibition, but it happened and now we've got states saying OK to smoking a little weed. Somewhere we all have to believe that each of us has the responsibility to account for our own actions and if it results in something bad we're responsible for the outcome.


Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 1:15 a.m.

Agreed. What next outlawing cigarettes? Personal accountability is terrifying for some to contemplate but its called being an adult.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 9:27 p.m.

I litigate traumatic brain injury cases as an attorney and have had a teenage relative of mine who survived a catastrophic auto accident in 1986 because, as medical professionals advised my family, he was wearing a helmet at the time he collided with motor vehicle. He sustained no TBI and his injuries were primarily orthopedic from which he substantially recovered from initial disability. He kept the damaged helmet as a souvenir of his survival of a serious accident When we had heard that the motorcycle helmet law was being repealed, my family expressed disappointment over Governor Snyder's action in signing the repeal law. We had felt the helmet law had been responsible for preventing or mitigating many head injuries for bikers. My profound sympathies go out to the Pohls and I hope that a positive by-product of this sad incident is that it will galvanize public opinion into reinstating the helmet law that had been one of the wisest enactments made by the Michigan Legislature.


Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 12:58 a.m.

Finally!! Of all the articles which have appeared here: your comment is the first I've seen made by someone who has some definable expertise on the topic at hand. This despite my repeated requests that some kind of expert opinion would help temper all the (uninformed, often unsupportable) heated opinions in the comments sections. Thanks.

Stephen Landes

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 9 p.m.

I don't ride a motorcycle and never would. After reading most of the comments posted here I have to wonder about the "motor cycle culture". What is it about motor cyclists that they seem to be more concerned with whether or not they appear to be "dorks" than with their safety? What is it about this culture that there has to be a law in place to require helmet use so some people have a crutch to prevent them from appearing to be uncool? We went through a lot with seat belts in cars, but much of the opposition was the perception by drivers that they were surrounded by all that metal, so they were safe. Cyclists can't possibly be under that misapprehension.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 7:33 p.m.

It's a sad and very tragic story anytime a life is lost and especially someone in the prime of life, however the no helmet law does not require a rider to ride helmetless it only gives them the option. If someone is of age to obtain a license to ride a motorcycle they should be able to realize the danger and responsibility that comes with it. Sad but true .... think about it.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 6:16 p.m.

So where it the news? Living life can be wonderful and it can be tragic. Less of either of those if you want to spend your life locked in a room. Scott knew that wearing a helmet while riding a motor cycle is not illegal, as it is when driving a car. It was his option and he chose not to, increasing his risk that if he was in an accident. Every time anyone gets in a car or on a motor cycle, we know we could be involved in an accident that day – that's just the way it is. Scott was comfortable with the risk that day and it ended badly – hence the tragedy. That's just what happens sometimes but because Scott had a really bad day does not mean I need to wear a helmet or will die the same way. Still, anyone with a normal life and writing on this board could be dead by the end of the week – that's just the way life is and no amount of nanny state hand holding will change that. ..and of course, motorcycle deaths are down despite all the spin and lies by those trying to maximize their profits by restricting the behavior of other adults.


Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 4:32 a.m.

Additional insurance is part of the helmet law and I already pay for the treatment of thousands of chronically ill every day. Maybe it would be nice to join the legions of slackers out there doing nothing but watching tv all day?! LOL If you want to be outraged, go learn about the free early retirement plan called "disability". Have fun paying for that. Now that the fools in this country have voted for the decline of America, our healthcare is about to crash - helmet or no helmet.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 8:25 p.m.

How much insurance do you carry? If you sustain a closed head injury requiring lifelong treatment, and your insurance does not cover lifetime care, can we pull the plug so we don't have to pay for your decision?


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 5:45 p.m.

I experienced a very dangerous fall from my horse several years ago. My helmet split down the back. Had I not been wearing a helmet, that split would have been my skull. I NEVER ride without a helmet. I never have. Riders replace their helmets after any fall impacting their head, as well. Riding a motorcycle without a helmet? Hey. I LOVE life!


Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 11:56 p.m.

So why don't you wear your helmet when traveling on an air liner or driving a car? And when walking in a field, hip waders will protect you from rattle snakes.


Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 4:43 p.m.

The fact is, that if the helmet law had been in effect, this young man would be wearing a helmet. He might have died from other injuries sustained in the accident, but a helmet would have improved his chances of survival.


Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 4:39 a.m.

You sound perfectly rational about your horse riding. The same risk evaluation that tells you to wear a helmet on your horse but not an airliner tells me when I need to wear a helmet on my motorcycle. ...or if I will ride it at all - such as at rush hour during a snow storm. These parents find comfort believing that something their son could have done would have saved his life....that is part of their grieving, but should never become the basis for new laws - call it surviving parent crusader syndrome.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 6:49 p.m.

Equestrian sports are inherently dangerous. I do everything in my power to ride as safely as I can, and use appropriate safety equipment always. A helmet in an airplane? Silly. But I do keep my seat belt on during turbulence in an help prevent BRAIN injury!


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 6:18 p.m.

Do you wear a helmet when flying on an airliner? If you are involved in a plane crash, your skull is definitely in danger.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 5:25 p.m.

It is so tragic when a young person, full of potential, loses his life. It is especially tragic when that loss could have been prevented by wearing a simple piece of equipment. My heart goes out to this family in their struggles. Wear the helmet. Just wear the helmet.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 5:22 p.m.

Whenever I see a motorcycle driver without a helmet, I hope I will not be the one who will kill him/her. Any of the little moments of inattentiveness or risk that are normally recoverable (the "sneeze factor") could result in someone's death if that person is as vulnerable as helmetless riders are. Same with someone walking along the highway. Or driving with people in the back of a pickup. These are vulnerable positions to put yourself in. I'll do the best driving job I can, but please motorcycle driver, for both our sakes, do your part and wear a helmet.

E. Daniel Ayres

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 5:19 p.m.

Young drivers do not pay adequate attention unless and until they get that one close call scare or unfortunatlely cause an accident before they really learn how serious and how important the message about always paying full attention to your surroundings and traffic really is. If I had my way, I would require every young driver to train on a motorcycle before being granted full driving rights so that they experience and understand just how vulnerable the other driver can be. I personally used motorcycles as my prmary transportation for four years before I ever owned a car. It gave me a different perspective on operating motor vehicles.


Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 12:37 a.m.

You're probably going to get flamed by those who refuse to believe (1) responsibility involves training and experience and (2) those who don't believe you or anyone can possibly develop skills sufficient for them to trust you. (of course those people are wrong on both counts but they'll pile on you in an effort to divert attention from their own lack of responsibility, ability, etc.)

E. Daniel Ayres

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 5:15 p.m.

My younger brother was killed at age 17 riding his motorcycle to tell my parents he had just been accepted to finish high school in State College, PA after having dropped out of the Philadelphia public school system. His death was not prevented by a helmet which I salvaged from his body at the emergency room even though it was soaked with his blood. A few days later, friends of his came to a memorial service on a motorcycle from Ohio which permitted riding without a helmet at the time. A young female "back seat passenger" had no helmet with her. His helmet was pressed on her and she wore it on the trip home. During that trip in traffic near Columbus, OH, the bike she was on was forced down by a car that cut them off, and she slid on the pavement until her head hit the crub! If she had not been wearling my brother's helmet there is no doubt she would have died!

Chase Ingersoll

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 6:29 p.m.

Wonderful story.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 5:13 p.m.

In life one makes choices ..some good , some bad , unfortunately some fatal....

A A Resident

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 5:13 p.m.

Mr. Pohl, thank you for using this tragedy as an opportunity to help others, by increasing motorcycle safety awareness. I'm so sorry for your loss. My father knows I was injured in a vehicle accident earlier this year, but I didn't have the courage to tell him that the vehicle was a motorcycle. It's tough being a parent, and parents can feel so helpless sometimes...

Boo Radley

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 5:06 p.m.

In reading all of the comments, it seems that Gov. Snyder is being blamed and considered 100% responsible for repealing the helmet law. Yes, he could have refused to sign it, as Gov. Granholm did, but how did it keep ending up on the Governor's desk year after year? Did anyone write their legislators to argue against the helmet repeal law?


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 11:05 p.m.



Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 8:26 p.m.

Yes. Ignored.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 5:09 p.m.

Not 100% responsible, but he traded this legislation for the hope they would vote yes on the bridge. He was wrong on both counts.

Jon Saalberg

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 5:03 p.m.

Well, Mr. Synder - I hope you are proud of this GOP legislative accomplishment, that has resulted in the death of numerous Michiganders. I thought part of your mission is to better the lives of our state's residents, not hasten their end. Some posters say he chose to not wear a helmet - true. But if the law had not been changed, he would have been wearing a helmet. So the change in the law is responsible for his decision. While Michigan's helmet law was in effect, I never saw a cyclist sans helmet.

E. Daniel Ayres

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 4:59 p.m.

As a 70 year old lifetime motorcyle rider and enthusiast, I've accumulated a lot of stories like this. This one is fundamentally similar to the one which almost killed a long-term family friend back in 1965. In both cases, a young driver very familiar with the local intersection turned left across traffic from behind another vehicle to cross traffic and was hit by an oncoming motorcyle which had little or not opportunity to avoid the accident. The helmet law, true, has some possible impact, but MOST IMPORTANT IS THE INATTENTIVE YOUNG DRIVER ON A FAMILIAR RELATIVELY LOW TRAFFIC ROAD! Going to get ice for a second graduation party travelling with a younger sibling? In a hurry to get home to milk the cows? Come on!

Joe Wood

Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 10:59 p.m.

Are you dissing on people who milk cows?


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 5:12 p.m.

Yes, inattentive young drivers are more dangerous. But since inexperienced drivers are a necessary precursor to experienced drivers, they form a part of the environment that other drivers (and pedestrians and bikers) must be ready to operate in. To make yourself so vulnerable when you know the hazards that are out there (young inexperienced drivers, older inattentive drivers, slow moving vehicles, etc.) -- that's the disconnect. Riding a motorcycle without a helmet is either a wildly optimistic assessment of the environment or a willful acceptance of the risks. Or both. That said, I am truly sorry for the deaths involved, both this young man and your family friend. And the many more. Sad losses.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 4:27 p.m.

"In 2000, for example, Florida changed its universal helmet law to a partial helmet law that covered only riders aged <21 years and those with <$10,000 in medical insurance coverage. During the 2 years after the law was changed, the motorcyclist death rate per 10,000 registered motorcycles in Florida increased by 21%, deaths among motorcycle riders aged <21 years nearly tripled, and hospital admissions of motorcyclists with injuries to the head, brain, and skull increased by 82% (7). In addition, gross costs charged to hospital-admitted motorcyclists with head, brain, or skull injuries in Florida more than doubled, from $21 million to $50 million (7). Studies that have examined nonfatal injury outcomes among motorcyclists who wore helmets and those who did not have found that hospitalized riders who had not worn helmets incurred higher health-care costs (8,9). Riders who do not wear helmets are more likely to suffer traumatic brain injuries, and median hospital charges for those with traumatic brain injuries are 13 times higher than for those without such injuries (8). Riders who do not wear helmets also are less likely to have health insurance, and therefore are more likely to require publicly funded health care (9). Taxpayers pick up the tab for Other Peoples "freedom" to be , as Mr Pohl said himself...stupid.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 7:29 p.m.

Guess I'm replying to a reply. Yes, we should decrease the speed limit on all highways. It's been proven to my satisfaction, that there are fewer fatalities at lower speeds. I was so discouraged when Michigan, after lowering the speed limit to 55, went back to increased speed limits because most drivers drive faster than 55. Since when do we make laws according to how people act? How stupid. Incidentally, driving 55 also increases fuel efficiency, not something to be taken lightly these days.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 8:22 p.m.

SERIOUS. Excellent questions. Requiring riders to wear helmets is not too onerous of a regulation, IMHO. What the GOP could have done is that when they removed the requirement they could have said each rider has to carry enough insurance such that taxpayers would not be on the hook for medical expenses incurred due to accident. I would have expected this from a political party that constantly whines about "takers" and paying for "other peoples mistakes in life". But no, they passed it in the name of "freedom" with no regard to the cost to other people. Insurance companies and employers regularly require people to take care of themselves, stop smoking , meet body mass limits etc. One can be fired for smoking or being fat right now in this country. One can be denied a job for using tobacco products.

Laura Jones

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 6:45 p.m.

You cannot mandate what others eat, but we could fund and change the one place we can make a difference with most citizens; school programs. It would make financial sense for schools to offer comprehensive food, cooking and nutrition classes for all grades, declassify pizza as a vegetable and get it off the menu's and more PE (PE has been decimated in public schools). So yes, we can and should affect those areas where there is a significant benefit to the nation and our future as a strong country. Some risks are one we should discourage in as many ways possible.

Are you serious?

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 4:45 p.m.

I don't disagree with any of the facts and your comment. However, where does one stop/start with regulations? it is common knowledge that Americans are increasingly obese because of poor food choices. Should we regulate food choices so people cannot eat things that make them obese? Should the speed limits be reduced on all freeways so there are less severe accidents? Should we require all vehicles on the road to weigh at least 3,000 pounds for vehicle safety? In my opinion there are no easy answers to any of those questions and many others that deal with various risks. You pay for the risks I take, I pay for the risks you take.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 4:20 p.m.

"You may call it stupid but I call it living." I call it being dead. Condolences to both families involved in this tragedy. If he had worn a helmet or if she had looked twice this could have ended differently.

Tom Todd

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 3:59 p.m.

Snyder the Genius


Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 4:57 a.m.

I am generally supportive of the governor but was very disappointed that he did not veto this bill. With Obamacare looming and our insurance rates skyrocketing, we need to have in place regulations that promote health and healthy behavior, especially for people who subscribe to the President's plan. Laws like this just up the costs.


Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 12:15 a.m.

You're on the right track... think it through a bit more. I'm sure you can see that it wasn't Gov. Snyder per se who's responsible but the Republican legislature which acted on the "Republican Principle" which says individual choices are always correct and therefore we shouldn't burden our oh-so-infallible individualist population with laws to protect them... from themselves. It's true that "either / or" doesn't exactly match up with all that's in between and legislatures can go too far either way (more restrictions vs fewer restrictions). But political ideologies have a poor record vis a vie reality anyway, so why use one of them to make laws? ;-)


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 8:02 p.m.

To blame Gov Snyder is like blaming your mother for every bad decision you make in life just because she gave birth.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 3:55 p.m.

It boils down to: Keep your laws off my body. Personal safety, drug use, reproductive rights, ...etc.


Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 1:57 a.m.

No problem. You pay all your medical costs if you suffer a head injury.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 5:36 p.m.

Why don't we just do away with all traffic laws, as well. Let's not even make an attempt to keep people safer...and that pesky seat-belt law....simply a nuisance, and a threat to my freedom. *sarcasm font*

Charley Sullivan

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 4:58 p.m.

Except that the rest of us end up paying for your stupidity with higher insurance rates in this case.

A A Resident

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 4:37 p.m.

You're OK sharing the road with drivers who are drunk? Or do think the freedom should only apply to you?


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.

Problem is that your bad decisions cost everyone else.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 3:55 p.m.

I say why don't we extend this insanity of not wearing a helmet. I drive a snowmobile. When they made this law why didn't they extend it to snowmobiles. Going without a helmet on a snowmobile is just as asinine as going on a motorcycle without one. And before anyone mentions the cold, i'm sure I could find a head protection for the cold that wouldn't require me to where one of the silly helmets. P.S. hopefully everyone is catching the sarcasm in the last statement


Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 4:43 a.m.

It's not apple to oranges. The machine may be different but in both cases you're riding a high rate of speed, not metal around you to keep you on or in the machine. And without a helmet nothing to keep the head from making contact to a hard surface like another vehicle or a tree.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 8:04 p.m.

Apples and oranges


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 3:53 p.m.

It's still amazing to me that airline passengers scramble to put on a seatbelt as if they were looking for their winning lottery ticket, yet have a very low chance of surviving a serious crash from any altitude. Yet, car seatbelts are still 'bad medicine' and motorcycle helmets are freedom. What would bikers say about airbags on their scooters? The comment about inept drivers struck home. I now realize that will always be true. As will drunk or stoned drivers. Driving defensively and staying away from certain types of roads, intersections and locations is all you have left. I love my SUV. Its a tank. The extra gas is worth living another 30 years pain free. Distracted drivers, though, need to be pilloried.

Tim Hornton

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 3:49 p.m.

Sounds like this article is trying to suggest it was everybodies fault accept the teenage girl who killed this guy. Typical AAnews. They will probably delete this post too as they often do with commentsthey don't like. That being said there are a lot of bad drivers out there that don't pay attention and I don't ride bikes. With or without a helmet you are probably going to die in bad crash.

Laura Jones

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 6:36 p.m.

I think people are trying to say that the reality we all live in includes young drivers who make rookie mistakes, drunks who drive and simple accidents that happen - no matter what. Making choices about how one rides without recognition of the awful reality of ones vulnerability to such guaranteed co-rode drivers is not wise, nor should it be legal. Defensive driving begins for everyone with recognition of road realities and taking whatever safety measure are available that have been shown to reduce the impact to ones life and health such other drivers can have. The 'your going to die anyway' argument doesn't hold water. Safety in the US has a deep pool of very good data behind it.

Steven Murphy

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 3:45 p.m.

It's sad ending to a young life, but I would guess that Scott's in a way better place than this world.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 7:38 p.m.

"I say a prayer every time I get on my bike too. I ask to be protected. It makes me feel safer so I hope you can relax a little more. My goal is 100 percent not to get hurt." I think your comment is more disturbing than helpful.

Bob Krzewinski

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 3:35 p.m.

I can relate how helmets help. Riding on my bicycle in November 2006, FOLLOWING ALL TRAFFIC REGULATIONS, I was hit on a 25mph by a coward who left the scene and never even had to backbone to see if I was injured (I was - out of work for 5 months). My bicycle helmet had at least an inch of surface scraped off. That could have been an inch shaved off my skull without a helmet.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 7:17 p.m.

Thank you for sharing your experience. I hope your story will convince at least one motorcyclist to wear a helmet. Cyclists and bikers are so vulnerable no matter what safety precautions they take. I believe all drivers need education in sharing the road with motorcyclists, bicycle riders and pedestrians. We just generally need more courtesy and thoughtfulness toward others in our country. My son had such an experience riding his bike when he was in elementary school. He was wearing his helmet but a handle bar was driven into his chest with such force that doctors were concerned about damage to his heart. One of my daughters-in-law was seriously injured while riding her bike when a parked driver open her car door in front of my daughter-in-law. The situation would almost certainly have been much worse if she hadn't been wearing her helmet. The driver just wasn't paying attention; her door could just as easily have been hit by another car but that probably wouldn't have caused injury to anyone.

Karl Pohl

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 3:26 p.m.

I'm Karl Pohl the father of Scott. We did donate his organs but unfortunately he had such severe injuries to his chest and abdomen region that they couldn't use his lungs, heart, liver etc. The only organ that was used for transplant were his kidneys which I'm happy to say has helped two people. Scott very well may have died even he was wearing his helmet one Dr even said that but we will never know for sure. I just wish governor Snyder would reconsider the law. We have to wear our seat belts for safety and a helmet should be worn to. Many live have been saved by the seatbelt law and many lives will be saved if riders must wear helmets.....Sometimes we have to be protected from ourselves.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 6:29 p.m.

My heart goes out to you and your family. I can't think of anything worse than losing a child, let alone two. My prayers are with you all too. Thank you so much for donating his kidneys. How wonderful that you were able to arrange that in the midst of your great sorrow and pain. I'm so sorry for the additional pain some of these comments must have caused you and your family. I was shocked when the helmet law was repealed. I was shocked and angry when speed limits were increased. You're absolutely right that we sometimes need to be protected from ourselves. Blessed be Scott.


Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 9:52 a.m.

Well Said Mr. Pohl. Sorry for your family loss~


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 11:04 p.m.

I'm very very sorry for your loss. How hard it must be to have triedand tried to get Scott to wear a helmet and then have this happen. But adults make their own decisions, even if not always the best. My thoughts are with you and your wife.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 9:35 p.m.

Mr. Pohl: I am sorry for loss. This unfortunate accident is a good argument why the helmet law was needed. I hope that you will contact your representatives in the Michigan Legislature to urge that the prior helmet law be reinstated. I had felt the repeal was a mistake and as the product of pressure of special interests who had influence within the GOP.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 9:35 p.m.

I am so so sorry for your loss. It is generous of you to put yourselves out there. I hope everyone you meet during this experience remembers the magnitude your loss, no matter where they fall on the issue of helmets.

Laura Jones

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 6:23 p.m.

Just want to say how sorry I am for your loss and how courageous you are to speak out like this. Thank you for doing so.

E. Daniel Ayres

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 5:03 p.m.

Thank you for letting us know about the organ donations! It is so important that everyone understands that the protocols for organ donation are adequate protections and that we should all be part of the potential pool of organ donors!


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 3:04 p.m.

yes, the helmet may have saved his life, but what life would it be? As a self described risk taker, I doubt he would have wanted to be the shell of his former self.


Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 9:51 a.m.

And so what? That would be for either Scott or his caregivers to decide but they had NO DECISION about avoiding his death on this day, with him not choosing to wear a helmet.

Ron Granger

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 3 p.m.

Only through stronger penalties and vigorous enforcement will people begin to take their responsibilities in operating heavy machinery (cars and SUVs) more seriously. SUV's also create a further feeling of invulnerability that doesn't happen with small cars. I think people are more careful when driving small cars, including myself. The story is fairly comprehensive but seems to omit a few facts I was looking for: What was the speed limit on the country road? What was the estimated speed of the motorcycle? The speed limit for unposted rural roads is 55mph. I don't see how a helmet would make much difference, if any, at anything approaching those speeds. Was the headlight of the motorcycle functioning and on? I don't suppose we'll ever really know if the radio was on in the SUV or how loud it was. What type of vehicle was ahead of the motorcycle? That doesn't matter much - certainly the driver had a responsibility to make certain the road was clear. But some larger vehicles block the view of what is behind them more than others. You know how you can look down a country road and expect to see the edge or side of on-coming cars? A driver might wrongly assume there is only one vehicle if the second vehicle cannot be seen in that way, turning prematurely. When stopping to make a left turn like this on a country road, it is also critical that drivers check their mirrors to make certain they are not being passed by someone who just sees them as stopped in the road. Or if someone in a line of cars pulls out to pass when the lead car slows (for the turning driver). How many times have you wanted to pass someone who is stopped in the road, with indecision and no signals, when they suddenly start to turn? Much is being said in this story about the experience of the motorcycle rider, but nothing about the SUV driver. With cases pending that is not unexpected, but it is certainly very relevant.

A A Resident

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

Ron, we'll probably never know what the impact speed was. This is a very common scenario, where are car pulls out in front of a motorcycle, failing to notice it. Often, the motorcycle has time to scrub off a little speed before impacting the car. The motorcycle he was riding has the headlight on whenever the engine is running. There is no switch to turn it off. Always-on headlights have been helpful, but haven't solved the visibility issue. I now have a headlight which pulses or strobes. It seems to get driver's attention better than the original headlight.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 2:57 p.m.

I'm sorry that Scott died. I'm sorry that he chose not to wear a helmet, but it was his choice. There's no law that prevented him from wearing one. I and my friends discussed the choice and we all chose to still wear that small amount of protection.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 2:57 p.m.

Ok so everyone here seems to be under the assumption that motorcycle deaths have INCREASED since the ban was lifted. ACTUALLY......they have gone DOWN 13% since the ban was lifted..... Attribute that change to whatever you want....but that's the facts....

A A Resident

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

In my link above, with statistics since the Michigan helmet law was repealed, note that riders without helmets who were involved in crashes died at three times the rate of those wearing helmets; suffered incapacitating injuries at a 35% higher rate; came away with no injuries 25% less of the time.

A A Resident

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 4 p.m.

Here's a chart that does a pretty good job of cutting to the chase.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 3:47 p.m. Article contains Michigan stats since the law went into effect.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.

No Billy, the raw number of deaths is irrelevant. The death rate among helmetless motorcyclists involved in accidents is significantly greater than the death rate among those involved in accidents who were wearing a helmet. It is estimated that almost half of the deaths of helmetless motorcyclists in Michigan since the ban was lifted could have been prevented if the had worn helmets, based on historical statistics. Many factors affect the number of accidents, primarily weather.

Homeland Conspiracy

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 3:19 p.m.

Both of you need to back up your statements with FACTS! I can say anything I want but without proof it's just hot air or in this case just letters...


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 3:17 p.m.


A A Resident

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 3:02 p.m.

No, that's incorrect.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

I must say that I'm absolutely STUNNED that the OVERWHELMING census here is that he is dead because he didn't wear a helmet....not because an inept driver pulled out in front of him.... I take that back....i'm not much as disappointed and disgusted in the ignorance displayed here...


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 3:44 p.m.

No, he's not dead because he didn't wear a helmet, he would have decreased his chance of death if he had worn one. We don't know if the driver was inept. I've been driving for over 30 years and I still have trouble seeing motorcycles. This point was driven home when I was teaching my daughters to drive. Motorcycles are much more difficult to see than cars. Calling people ignorant will not make friends.

A A Resident

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

You're not looking at the whole picture. We have virtually no control over inept drivers. They do what they do. What we have a little control over is how we come away from our encounters with them. I had a car pull out in front of me in March. THERE WAS NOTHING I COULD DO ABOUT IT. Fortunately, I was wearing full safety gear. Yes, my pants, jacket, gloves, and helmet were damaged, enough that they needed to be replaced.

A A Resident

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 2:36 p.m.

Sure, he was the one who made the decision to ride without a helmet, but as motorcyclist, here's what I think is the salient point: Repeal of the helmet law has increased the temptation to ride without one. As I mentioned earlier, while a few motorcyclists were adamantly opposed to wearing helmets, most were basically OK with it when it was required by law for everyone. Even if it wasn't "cool", you could use the law as an excuse for wearing one. Even if this man wasn't legally entitled to the helmet exception, there's little doubt that he would have been wearing one back when everyone was required to. Basically, everyone did. And his mother and father wouldn't have needed to plead with him. I think most of us can acknowledge the value of some laws designed to protect us from ourselves. Those who don't can work on repealing the seat belt laws.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

It was a tragic death but he parents may want to reconsider the lawsuit. Can any amount of money they receive really change their lives? Look how the first insurance settlement ended up.

Gretchen Ridenour

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 2:15 p.m.

My condolences go out to the Pohl family and those who loved Scott. This is such a tragedy, especially since his dad strongly encouraged him to wear his helmet for safety. Having said that, I believe their anger is misdirected when they blame the state's new helmet law for his death. Scott was an adult who made a decision that turned out not to be in his best interest. The law didn't make him ride without the helmut; he made a conscious choice knowing the potential consequences. Again, my sympathy to his family.

Joe Wood

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 2:11 p.m.

"Though the new law says an operator must be certified for two years before going helmetless, Scott began riding without one." It is not Governor Snyder's fault if someone breaks the law and rides without a helmet. I've been riding for 46 years and I personally always wear one.

Barb's Mom

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

But it is Gov. Snyder's fault for signing a law that can not be enforced.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 2 p.m.

Wearing a helmet does improve one's chances of surviving a motorcycle crash. From a 2003 study: "Based on a comparison of fatal crashes involving motorcycles with two riders, at least one of whom was killed, the National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA) of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has estimated helmets to be about 37 percent effective in preventing fatalities" ( Mr. Pohl died of head injuries, so the chances a helmet would have saved his life are even higher. I thank the Pohl family for sharing this information. Fatalities from motorcycle accidents are no doubt going up in Michigan because of the law change. When we are riding out there on the road, we can reduce the danger to us by practicing safe riding techniques (I recommend David Hough's "Proficient Motorcycling") and by wearing highly rated protective gear from head to toe. One can even do things to improve one's visibility (extra lights; changing lane position; wearing high-visibility gear, including a helmet; honking a horn to get attention). Still, sometimes a driver is not looking and pulls right in front of a rider. In those cases, wearing proper gear significantly improves one's chances.


Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 9:47 a.m.

As a rider, I'll keep wearing my helmet. Personally, not wearing one is NOT very smart. We are on TWO wheels instead of four (although they're some three wheeled bikes now....but I would STILL wear a helmet riding them).

larry purvis

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 10:32 p.m.

I am Scott's grandfather.I don't know what Karl said,but my daughter,Linda said a helmet would not have helped,but they both agree they should be worn.Larry Purvis

Chase Ingersoll

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

I purchased a Honda Magna V45 when I turned 22. The information in my State Farm Agent's office was that more than half of motorcycle fatalities involved a motorcycle driver that was drinking. I quit drinking. The next two categories were drivers under the age of 25 and those who had been driving for less than 6 months. I put about 20k miles on motorcycles in the next 3 years. and drove in the worst conditions: thunderstorms, ice on the road, snowstorms and after midnight on the weekends when all the drunks are out. I drove without a helmet, which I found to reduce my hearing, vision and to cause rider fatigue. Statistically, I figured that I was more likely to be in an accident if I could not hear or see as well and that while the helmet would protect my head it would increase the likelihood in a crash that my neck would be snapped. Going back to horse and wagon, roads and means of transport are just plain dangerous to riders. Accidents with fatal consequences will happen. I should have been a statistic and there could have been someone out there for the rest of their life regretting that they had pulled out in front of me. I met a girl. She would not get on the motorcycle, so I sold it and married her. Now I have an electric bicycle that goes 20 mph tops. She won't ride that either. I find the thought of any of our children on a motorcycle terrifying.


Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 2:39 p.m.

I assume you didn't grow up in Michigan, as we've had a helmet law for a long time. I find it interesting that you would use carefully chosen statistics to justify your decision to not wear a helmet, but ignore the one statistic that flies in the face of your decision to not wear it. Non-helmeted riders are more likely to incur head trauma and more severe trauma in an accident than helmeted riders. You and your family are better off with you not being on a motorcycle.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 7:59 p.m.

@Chase: You state: "I drove without a helmet, which I found to reduce my hearing, vision and to cause rider fatigue. Statistically, I figured that I was more likely to be in an accident if I could not hear or see as well and that while the helmet would protect my head it would increase the likelihood in a crash that my neck would be snapped." I'm sorry, but you just can't insert the word "statistically" into your line of thought and believe it gives it greater truth, or any truth for that matter. Cite the statistics and make clear links to your situation. Otherwise, you're just speaking nonsense as so many do.

Laura Jones

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 6:16 p.m.

This is exactly the problem; confusing intuitive logic with reality. People do this normally and its a problem, which in this case, has a cure and used to be the law. Now, people are easily allowed to accept their intuition assuming its correct. More than one person will also think to themselves :well, if it wasn't better in some way they never would have gotten rid of the law. You don't see them repealing seat belt laws." It was a very poor decision to repeal the law on all counts. People may wish to have their "freedom" of choice, but there are consequences for others here; the people involved in the accident - now with increased severity (accidents happen, so spare me the platitudes), law enforcement and medical personnel (trauma victims leave scars on others too), families of both, insurance costs and medical costs. My point being it's not all about a perfect world for helmet-less riders, there is no perfect world and this no one is backsliding.

A A Resident

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 2:14 p.m.

"I drove without a helmet, which I found to reduce my hearing, vision and to cause rider fatigue. Statistically, I figured that I was more likely to be in an accident if I could not hear or see as well and that while the helmet would protect my head it would increase the likelihood in a crash that my neck would be snapped." ________________ Those may have been your impressions, but statistics and studies don't support those impressions. A few points from one of the largest motorcycle accident studies ever done: 45. The use of the safety helmet is the single critical factor in the prevention of reduction of head injury; the safety helmet which complies with FMVSS 218 is a significantly effective injury countermeasure. 46. Safety helmet use caused no attenuation of critical traffic sounds, no limitation of precrash visual field, and no fatigue or loss of attention; no element of accident causation was related to helmet use. 48. Helmeted riders and passengers showed significantly lower head and neck injury for all types of injury, at all levels of injury severity. 50. There is not liability for neck injury by wearing a safety helmet; helmeted riders had less neck injuries than unhelmeted riders. Only four minor injuries were attributable to helmet use, and in each case the helmet prevented possible critical or fatal head injury.

A A Resident

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

The repeal of the helmet law is so sad. Most motorcyclists were OK with wearing one when it was the law, but now it's easy to succumb to peer pressure not to wear one. When my wife rides her Harley to work, she takes that same route down North Territorial. We both wear full coverage helmets with the latest safety rating at all times. Sure, we may be dorks to some other motorcycle riders, but we don't care.

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 2:27 p.m.

If it makes you feel better about your "dorkness" many folks, myself included, see helmet-less riders as foolish at best. Your not a 'dork" for wearing a helmet your a responsible human being.

Bill Sloan

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

Nothing was said about whether the young man's organs were made available for transplant. I hope that they were.

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

"Both parents—divorced for some years, but close friends still—blame the state's new helmet law." I think that is misguided. The law didn't ban helmets it just made them optional. In any case my heart goes out to these folks. I can't imagine how hard it would be to lose 2 children.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.

A very sad story. However, the change in the law, which was a very bad idea, is not an issue here. "Though the new law says an operator must be certified for two years before going helmetless, Scott began riding without one." He chose to violate the law. The new law (which should never have been passed) says he has to wear a helmet. He made a decision which had awful consequences. "It was an accident," Karl Pohl says. "She'll have to live with the consequences of that. That's why people should wear their helmets. If you're wearing your helmet, people won't die and people won't have to deal with the consequences of having killed someone." Hopefully riders will listen to Mr.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 7:49 p.m.

A2comments: My understanding is that the police cannot stop someone on a motorcycle simply for not wearing a helmet and thus cannot check on whether they are carrying insurance, etc.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 2:06 p.m.

The change in the law is still an issue. Prior to the law, pretty much everybody wore helmets because not doing so meant a likely ticket. I doubt he would have ridden without a helmet if the law had not been changed.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 1:28 p.m.



Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 1:10 p.m.

I sold my motorcycle years ago after I realized that nothing that I did would help other drivers see me.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 7:54 p.m.

Yes Boo, they still couldn't see me.

Boo Radley

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 4:50 p.m.

That is not true .. there are a number of things a motorcycle operator can do to to help other drivers see them. -Make sure your cycle's headlight is on at all times. -Wear bright and/or reflective clothing. -Ride near the center line of the roadway, rather than the right edge where you are lost in the clutter of trees, mailboxes, garbage bins, etc. -Drive within the speed limit, as it is more difficult to judge an approaching cycle's speed than that of a car.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 12:57 p.m.

Condolences to the family. I understand the family's grief and feel sorry for everyone involved. However, to solely blame the new helmet law is shortsighted. From the story: "Though the new law says an operator must be certified for two years before going helmetless, Scott began riding without one." I don't necessarily agree with the new no-helmet law, but the victim was a man able to make his own decisions.


Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 5:07 a.m.

based on that logic a person who is 2 years old can make a decision. The question is, can they make a ADULT RESPONSIBLE decision. Allowing some people the ability to make their own decisions is a GOOD thing, despite what the right wing says.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 3:15 p.m.

@johnnya2, that in itself is a decision.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 2:47 p.m.

"the victim was a man able to make his own decisions." Apparently not, since he could not follow THE LAW.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 2:28 p.m.

Good point. His not following the new rules of 2-years certification must certainly be taken into account before anyone goes after the young woman.

John Counts

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.

And Arieswoman, the Pohl's wouldn't be suing Hamilton. Any litigation would be brought against either her insurance company, or if she wasn't sufficiently insured, Scott Pohl's own insurance company.

tom swift jr.

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 5:39 p.m.

"the Pohl's wouldn't be suing Hamilton. Any litigation would be brought against either her insurance company, or if she wasn't sufficiently insured, Scott Pohl's own insurance company." When a reporter makes a public statement such as "the Pohl's wouldn't be suing Hamilton..." Then says ".. Nothing civil has even been filed yet, so it's unknown how it will play out...." Then says "....Hamilton would be listed on any lawsuit, I'm sure....." Then says ".... I was merely pointing out that the insurance companies would most likely be writing any check...." Credibility as to fact checking and statements made with no basis in reality get's a bit serious... And then you dismiss it all with "that wasn't the point of the article..." That statement doesn't change the fact that there are a string of inaccurate assumptions published as "fact".

5c0++ H4d13y

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 5:19 p.m.

@John Counts you're perpetuating the fallacy that people sue insurance companies and not individuals in these situations.

John Counts

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 5:07 p.m.

All I've stated is that there will be some kind of lawsuit that will probably involve the driver and either her insurance company or his. That's pretty generic and intended to be so. The lawsuit is not the focus of the story, so there really was no need to go into depth.

tom swift jr.

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 4:42 p.m.

John, Your information and assumptions are not correct. A civil suit for a wrongful death can go after whatever insurance money is available, in addition to assets held by the driver and/or the owner of the vehicle at fault. Including going after future earnings. And, as stated, you don't "sue" an insurance company, they weren't driving and didn't own the car. Please check with an attorney before you make statements of legal fact.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 4:23 p.m.

@Cash: Sounds like the parents called a lawyer. Where is the chasing?


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 3:36 p.m.

Ambulance chasers favorite line "Oh don't worry about her...we will just get it from the insurance companies"....then...."wait....we can get more here.....and here......and here......."


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 2:46 p.m.

@John Counts Guess that is why my car insurance is so high! This will be the second son they will have gotten money for from an insurance company! So sad.

John Counts

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

Hamilton would be listed on any lawsuit, I'm sure. But if you look up at Arieswoman's comment I was responding to, she seemed to think Hamilton was going to personally have to pay out of her own pocket. I was merely pointing out that the insurance companies would most likely be writing any check -- if it comes to that.

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 1:33 p.m.

I'm no lawyer but I agree that they won't sue an insurance company they will sue the girl. What will happen is her insurance company through her liability insurance will defend her and pay out damages up to her limit. So while she may not pay out of pocket for damages she will be the defendant.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 1:22 p.m.

If anyone's insurance company is sued, it will ultimately be everyone's insurance that is affected. This is the kind of law suit that gives Michigan one of the highest automobile insurance rates in the nation. Whether the helmet would have saved this man's life will never be known for sure, but one thing is certain -- he was not wearing one, and he is dead. His family and the family of the female driver will suffer for the rest of their lives so that he could "live on the edge". My deepest sympathies to all.

average joe

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

John- With all due respect, your statement makes no sense. The SUV driver will be technically listed as the defendent, and perhaps whoever owns the vehicle(her parents?) if not her. Also, I see no reason why his parents would sue Scott's insurance company, unless the insurance co. is refusing to pay any accidental death benefits for some reason.

John Counts

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 1:03 p.m.

This is what Scott Pohl's parents told me about their specific legal situation. Nothing civil has even been filed yet, so it's unknown how it will play out.

tom swift jr.

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 12:49 p.m.

John, you might want to check with an attorney regarding that statement. As someone involved in EXACTLY the same situation 22 years ago, my lawsuit was against the driver of the car as well as the owner of the car.

John Counts

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 12:33 p.m.

Angela Hamilton, the 18-year-old woman driving the Ford Explorer in the accident, has been charged with moving violation causing death, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and/or $2,000 in fines.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 12:19 p.m.

I'd also like to note. Blaming this guy's death on him not wearing his helmet is EXACTLY like blaming a rape victim for dressing provocative.


Tue, Dec 4, 2012 : 6:11 p.m.

This comparison is so incredibly offensive on so many levels. How a woman (or man) dresses, has nothing to do with that person being raped. Nuns in full habit are raped. Muslim women in full covering are raped. I don't believe 80-year-old women dress provocatively. An infant, toddler, young child, does not dress OR behave in a provocative manner. Rape is never an "accident"; no one ever rapes someone because he was momentarily distracted in some way. The driver in this tragic incident did not think, "Oh there's a cyclist without a helmet; he's just asking to be hit and killed."

Rose Garden

Mon, Dec 3, 2012 : 4:15 p.m.

Amen to DOTDASH.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 4:09 p.m.

Are you kidding? An accident is an accident -- no one is saying the girl hit him on purpose. But rape is not an accident. So no, it is not remotely the same.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 2:44 p.m.

Actually,. he WAS breaking the law by NOT wearing his helmet. He did not have a motorcycle cert for two years. I am sure he had insurance which will say they will not pay because he was breaking the law or he had said when getting the insurance that he would wear a helmet and did not, which would negate his policy.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.

There are MORE than a few that would say it's not the same at all!


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.

Sure it is, Billy. Brilliant statement.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 12:15 p.m.

A: Sorry folks....the helmet wouldn't have helped much, if at all, in that kind of collision....listen to the doctors...they said it MIGHT have helped... B: What she commited is second degree manslaughter....also known as negligent homicide.... DRUNK DRIVERS THAT DONT KILL PEOPLE FACE STIFFER CHARGES THAN SHE DOES!!! Do NOT let someomone slide just because they're a "kid."


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 7:47 p.m.

Here's some CDC information: But they're biased, right?


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 4:20 p.m.

Billy reads minds apparently. Please wear a helmet so we don't risk your talent that enlightens us all.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 2:55 p.m. Deaths have gone DOWN hoss....what statistics are YOU looking at? That "" site? There was a 13% decline in motorcycle deaths...and this is from MSP statistics... Also...regarding what doctors say...that line was to appease grieving parents.....what they said AFTER that was the important part. The fact that you missed that means YOU haven't been around doctors very much....


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

Read the article. The doctors didn't say MIGHT: "They said it certainly would have helped,"


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 12:41 p.m.

You've never been around doctors, have you? The "it certainly would have helped" line means something. The fact that motorcyclist deaths are way up since the new law means something too. If my car hits your car and you are severely injured because you didn't take common sense safety measures, it doesn't make my culpability greater. It just makes it more tragic.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 12:09 p.m.

A tragic story and a tragic loss. There are more stories like this - too many - since the needless repeal of the helmet law. Of all Governor Snyder's accomplishments, this will stand as a glaring mistake. I hope that next year our legislators will have the courage to look at the "data" (which is the unfortunate euphemism for dead neighbors, friends and relatives) and correct their error.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 3:45 p.m.

But repealing the law does NOT make it illegal to wear a helmet. Choices were made and they were bad choices.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 11:58 a.m.

This is a terrible tragedy. But suing the young woman is in my opinion not the answer either. At 18 I doubt she has many assets either. He should have worn a helmet. That law to allow no helmets was a big mistake.

music to my ear

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 7:02 p.m.

that is the risk he took, even telling his dad he was more riskie than his dad I am sorry for the parents.


Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 2:38 p.m.

Wouldn't it be to get money from her insurance company?

Bob W

Sun, Dec 2, 2012 : 12:11 p.m.

Couldn't 't agree more and I 'ge been a rider since 1970. All very sad and unnecessary.