Biker Lifestyle

A Bikers Life- Honor, Loyalty, Integrity. No worse feeling then loosing someone so young.

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By James “Hollywood” Macecari

The life of a biker is one made up of backbreaking work, dedication to ones brothers and sisters; but most of all family. It’s been awhile since my last opinion article here on Insane Throttle. I‘ve been engaged with Motorcycle Madhouse and The Biker Angle over on Youtube which takes up a great deal of my time. When I was contacted by one of our readers with the below story I felt compelled once again to write.

The story I received was about 26-year-old Shawn Simpson. Shawn was killed when a horse scared by fireworks ran into the road. A tragic accident for sure. What is more tragic is the accident took the life of a kid so young. I call him a kid because I have a daughter his very own age. I can’t imagine what the mother and family is going through right now loosing someone so young.

I can relate though as a sibling who lost his older brother at the age of 15. Killed by a drunk driver at the age of 25. What I can say to those who are brothers or sisters of Shawn. It’s going to be a long and hard road. You will think about him and that accident for days on end. One thing you can find comfort in? The type of young man he was. His very last post on his Facebook Page said all I ever needed to know about him and his personality. “Such a beautiful night to be on a bike.” Such words tell me that Shawn was a deeply caring person. One who loved his family and friends. A man who went out doing what he loved. Riding his motorcycle.

On behalf of the staff of Insane Throttle Biker News, Motorcycle Madhouse and Biker Angle. We send out our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Shawn GBNF. Below you will find the article about Shawn and his tragic accident. There will be a fundraiser to help cover funeral expenses and other bills for Shawn. I will put that up on our social media accounts when I get them.

 

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The Virginian Pilot

A horrible tragedy on the Eastern Shore: A man is dead and a community rattled

Of all the ways you could die on a major highway, colliding with a horse isn’t one you’d expect.When that happened July 3 on U.S. 13 – the thoroughfare that runs the spine of the Eastern Shore – it rattled this rural community.

Families are deeply rooted here. Faces are familiar. The horse’s owner even knew the young man who was killed.When animals and vehicles meet in these parts, a deer is usually involved. An average buck weighs 150 pounds – enough to do plenty of damage to a car or truck.

At 900 pounds, the average horse is six times heavier.

That night, as the sun went down, the tragedy unfolded near Birdsnest, a speck on the map in Northampton County.

Fireworks went bang.

A horse named Charlie busted out of his pen and headed for the highway.

Just as two friends on motorcycles came rumbling north.

A roadside memorial already marks the scene of the crash, just south of Birdsnest Drive. A small Harley-Davidson flag whips in the woosh of passing traffic – a splash of orange next to a soybean field about 30 minutes from the north end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.

The week after the accident, the family of 26-year-old Shawn Simpson stopped at the spot to tend to things. Spray weed killer. Straighten some solar lights and a motorcycle helmet left as a tribute. Add a Miller Lite can.

“He was a good boy,” said his mother, Rita Simpson. “Carefree.”

The Simpsons live in Painter, a town of about 230 people 12 miles up the road. On the highway shoulder, they wrapped their arms around each other.

They said they’re still trying to figure out exactly how this happened and they don’t want to talk about it.

They’re not alone. No one wants bad blood between neighbors, or to make anyone feel worse. It was an accident, and there’s too much pain already.

But a man is dead and another injured. It could have been anyone on the road that night – local or otherwise. U.S. 13 is a regular route for countless tourists and out-of-towners traveling back and forth from the Northeast. This time, it just happened to be two of their own.

Now, strangers are knocking on doors. Lawyers, insurance adjusters, reporters.

Who’s responsible, if anyone? And how can such a thing be avoided in a landscape where horses are common?

The search for answers leads down some complicated paths. Fence laws. Criminal versus civil. Cause and effect.

Judging by Simpson’s final Facebook post, that Tuesday evening started out simply enough. The day’s heat was starting to cool. A fingernail moon hung in the sky. Tomorrow was a holiday.

His post:

Shawn Simpson is with Constantine Stephano

Such a beautiful night to be on a bike

July 3 at 8:18 p.m.

By 9 p.m., sirens were wailing.

Tragedy Strikes

Charlie was an older horse, black and white – a pattern people call a “paint.” He lived in a yard-sized pen on Birdsnest Drive, on the west side of the highway, just a 10th of a mile from its river of traffic.

Property records say the place belongs to Holly Taylor, a well-liked mail carrier who’s living a few miles away while she’s restoring the century-old house next to Charlie’s pen.

By all accounts, the single mother of three is devastated. Taylor hasn’t wanted to talk to the press but gave a close friend the OK to do so.

Autumn Cardoza has known Taylor for seven years. Cardoza also lives on Birdsnest Drive, but on the east side of U.S. 13.

“She’s not doing good,” Cardoza said of Taylor. “She’s pretty much stayed a hermit.”

When Taylor does go out, Cardoza said, she feels like people are staring at her, even muttering under their breath.

“A lot of people are talking about it,” she said.

Cardoza said Taylor and Simpson were friends: “Everybody knows everybody around here.”

She said Taylor has spent much of her life around horses. She’s had Charlie since 2014. She moved him onto the Birdsnest property about a year ago, penning him in with what’s known as a portable electric corral.

With that system, plastic poles are pushed into the ground, then threaded with strands of a mesh-like ribbon that can be electrified by a car-type battery or outlet.

“That horse used to board with us,” said Tom Sawyer, whose 9-acre pasture across the street from Taylor’s place is surrounded by a stout, permanent fence.

“I only charged her $50 a month to keep him here,” Sawyer said. “I wouldn’t do that for just anyone.”

Cardoza said Taylor checked on Charlie regularly but was out of town on July 3 when a neighbor began lighting fireworks around dusk. Others in the community confirm the noise. They’re convinced that spooked Taylor’s horse.

Charlie snapped three of his pen’s plastic poles, took off toward U.S. 13 and crossed the four-lane, 55-mph stretch, winding up on the grassy shoulder of the northbound lanes as the headlights of Simpson and Stephano appeared.

Simpson was a dry-wall installer. Stephano is a volunteer firefighter in Onancock. They attended high school together and shared a love for motorcycles. They were heading home that night after a cruise to Cape Charles.

Had it been daytime, they might have preferred one of the area’s scenic, winding back roads. But they’re riskier at night, when deer are on the move.

State police say Charlie stepped into the road. Simpson, unable to stop in time, slammed into the horse and was killed instantly. Charlie was mortally wounded. Stephano laid down his bike, skidding along the asphalt.

“Then we heard the sirens,” Cardoza said.

Someone called Taylor to tell her there was an accident near her property involving a horse. Taylor got in touch with Cardoza, worried it was Charlie.

Cardoza hurried toward the highway to check.

Flashing lights from police cars and ambulances lit the dark. Stephano was airlifted to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. Cardoza saw two motorcycles down on the pavement. And Charlie, already winched onto a flat-bed trailer, deadly still.

“I sat with the horse the whole time,” Cardoza said. “So much chaos.”

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And loss. The Simpsons buried their son. Taylor buried her horse. Stephano spent five days in the hospital with a fractured ankle and severe road rash.

Mary Bracy, 78, lives near Taylor’s property.

“I do feel like it was caused by the fireworks,” Bracy said, “and I think something ought to be done about that.”

But no one was with Charlie the moment he bolted from his pen, so it’s difficult to know for sure.

State police said fireworks didn’t figure into their investigation. Spokeswoman Michelle Anaya pointed out that something else could have spooked the horse, even a snake.

Accident investigations focus on the facts at the moment of impact.

“Nobody was charged at the scene,” Anaya said.

Even if fireworks were the cause, it’s not criminal unless the person setting them off intended to hurt someone.

The same applies to a horse getting out of a fence.

Beverly Leatherbury, the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Northampton County, doesn’t anticipate prosecuting anyone. “I’m aware of no facts at this time that would give rise to criminal liability,” she said.

In accidents like this, if anyone winds up in court, it’s usually a civil lawsuit.

“Nobody is going to jail over it,” said Jack Thornton, the county’s assistant prosecutor.

But many folks are talking about fences now.

Fencing laws – what’s considered adequate – vary by state. Localities can often tweak with their own ordinances, but Northampton sticks to Virginia’s law, which lists some specifics, then goes on to say “any fence of any kind whatsoever” that’s at least 42 inches high and is constructed of and installed to “acceptable” standards so livestock can’t “creep” through.

What’s “acceptable” can be up for debate.

“We’re still gathering facts and evidence about what happened and why,” said J. Nicholas Klein III, a personal injury attorney who’s been retained by the Simpson family and Stephano.

“He’s very lucky he wasn’t injured more seriously,” Klein said of Stephano.

Bracy, Taylor’s neighbor, said she recently saw Taylor – who broke down crying, upset about the crash.

“It’s just a terrible freak accident,” Bracy said.

Simpson’s funeral was held in Exmore. Droves of bikers came to pay respects.

“You were sent off right,” reads one comment on Simpson’s Facebook page.

“Ride hard in the sky,” reads another. “Rest In Peace.”

The tributes haven’t stopped.

On some nights, Cardoza can hear motorcycles pause at the roadside memorial.

They rev their engines. A biker’s salute that shatters the quiet.

The sound rips across some rusty railroad tracks, thundering toward a pasture of horses.

Joanne Kimberlin, 757-446-2338, joanne.kimberlin@pilotonline.com

Gordon Rago, 757-446-2601, gordon.rago@pilotonline.com

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2 comments

  1. It is always so difficult to find the right words to say at such times of tragedy, but you have worded this excellently James.
    In my career, sadly, I saw far too many young lives lost, and too many times had to inform the families concerned. I saw too many young men’s bodies flown home from faraway lands to greaving families. In the Gurkhas in Nepal we would burn the deceased body at the side of a sacred river no coffin, just the body wrapped in a thin cloth, face exposed, and a pile of wood. I think I did that 7 times in my 3 years there. And despite seeing so many tragedies, finding consoling words never comes any easier. It is always so devastating for family and close friends, and beyond logical explanation or reason.
    For me personally, a strong belief that this life is but a journey, and there is no end, just a change, albeit a sad and tragic change for those left behind, but still a journey for the person departed, always gave me great comfort.
    My sincerest and heartfelt condolences to Shawn’s family and loved ones.

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