Rick Boston firstname.lastname@example.org
“Grease Monkey” Brumbaugh loved his family, his motorcycle and serving his community.
It was his love of bikes and the desire to make a difference that led him to the Guardians of the Children, a motorcycle club dedicated to stopping child abuse and protecting its victims.
Brumbaugh, 51, died Saturday from injuries he suffered in a traffic accident last Friday evening on Frankstown Road in Logan Township, leaving behind wife Gwen, two brothers, two sisters, six children, four stepchildren, numerous grandchildren and his bike riding “brothers.”
Brumbaugh’s sister, Tracy Brumbaugh of Houtzdale, said her brother’s death has left his family reeling, but that she wants to use this experience to promote bike safety.
“This is the time for bike awareness,” Tracy said.
Logan Township police reported that the driver of a four-door sedan turned left onto Frankstown Road from Chapel Drive about 8:10 p.m., and that Brumbaugh, who was traveling eastbound on Frankstown Road, struck the sedan.
Tracy said her brother was a strong advocate for bike safety and made sure his bike could be seen.
“My brother was big on bike safety,” Tracy said. “His bike was lit up like a Christmas tree.”
Dave Thompson is the coordinator for the Blair County Chapter of A.B.A.T.E., an organization that advocates for motorcyclist’s rights.
Thompson is also a certified Pennsylvania motorcycle instructor and advocates for motorcycle safety through Operation Save a Life, which teaches young drivers how to safely share the road with bikers.
“It’s one of our cornerstones,” he said. “We go into driver’s education classes or assemblies at schools and show videos and talk about what to look out for.”
Thompson said drivers have a misconception is that motorcycles can “stop on a dime.” He said it takes the same amount of distance for a bike going 35 mph to stop as it does a small car.
Thompson said drivers tend to get distracted easily and said anyone pulling out from a stop sign should look a minimum of two times both ways.
“Look twice, save a life,” he said.
Thompson said that one of the dangers bikers face is motorists who think the bike is further away or going slower than it is as they pull out into the intersection.
“Be extra cautious when driving, especially at intersections,” he said. “Don’t assume the bike is going slower than you think it is because it might get to you quicker than you think it will.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, when motorcycles and other vehicles collide, it is usually the non-motorcycle driver who violates the motorcyclist’s right of way.
Thompson said it is important for bikers to be alert at all times, and although no one can predict if someone is going to pull out in front of you, everyone who rides a bike should be fully aware of their surroundings and know their bike.
Tracy said her brother was always cautious and responsible on his bike. She said going out for a ride was an escape for him.
“Riding was a sense of freedom for him,” she said. “He loved being on the road, but was always careful.”
Tracy said one of her brother’s greatest joys was being a member of the Guardians of the Children, a motorcycle club that advocates on behalf of abused children.
“My brother loved his bike.” Tracy said. “But more than bikes, he loved his brothers in the GOC.”
Tracy said her brother became involved with the Guardians of the Children after her granddaughter became a victim of abuse and she had reached out to the club for help.
“Bobby saw the good they do and how they help these kids and wanted to be part of it,” she said.
Tracy said the guardians are a close-knit group who refer to each other as “brothers.” In fact, the members’ concern for one another is how she found out her brother was in an accident.
“When there is a motorcycle accident, the members will text each other and do a head count,” she said. “When they texted each other on Friday, my brother didn’t respond. That’s when the other members found out what happened.”
Tracy said she realized how much the club loved her brother when about 150 bikers gathered in the parking lot across from UPMC Altoona, where her brother was being kept in the ICU, for a chance to say goodbye.
“When they were getting ready to pronounce my brother dead, someone in my brother’s hospital room put his phone on speaker and each one of his brothers that were in the parking lot were able to say farewell to him,” she said. “Afterward, they did a ride around town in his honor.”
Tracy said she wants her brother’s death to serve as a learning tool for motorists and bikers. She said she doesn’t want what happened to ruin the life of the driver who pulled out in front of her brother.
Tracy said the loss of her brother has created a hole in the lives of everyone who knew him, but the best way she can honor his memory is by bringing awareness to biker safety.
“He was a big part of a lot of people’s lives,” she said. “I don’t want his death to be in vain. He was a fantastic person and those couple of seconds are going to affect everyone, including the drivers, for the rest of our lives. Slow down and be aware of your surroundings.”
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