Across the United States, motorcyclists celebrated our nation’s birthday over the long Fourth of July holiday weekend with patriotic celebrations and protest rides. But according to a story in the Post-Standard Philip A. Contos died during the June 2nd, ABATE of Onandaga’s 11th annual Helmet Protest Run. Contos lost control of his 1983 Harley-Davidson and flipped over the handlebars. In the report, the police report that a helmet would have likely saved Contos, saying he suffered a skull fracture which likely contributed to his death. The mainstream media was quick to jump on the theory and use the police report as evidence that Contos caused his own death by not wearing a helmet. At least one blogger, Robert Paul Reyes went so far as to call Contos a “moron” for not wearing a helmet.
Freedom of choice advocates say Contos knew the risks and his death is not a black mark on the movement. “ABATE is very saddened and still shocked about the fact that we’ve lost another rider in Philip and that our hearts go out to him and our prayers as well,” Syracuse chapter president Christinea Rathbun told a local ABC affiliate.
Later that same night, thousands of miles away in San Antonio Texas, in an unrelated yet bizarre coincidence, heavy metal vocalist Victor Villarreal, known as Vikk Real of both One of Sixx and Byfist, was killed when his motorcycle was struck by a horse trailer hauled by a pickup truck when the was attempting to make a U-turn in the roadway to return to a riding partner who’s motorcycle had broken down.
In an eerie, Alman Brothers style coincidence, Villarreal’s wife Jessica was killed last July while riding her motorcycle on her 37th birthday. Villarreal was the singer of One of Sixx and his wife sang back up vocals. They are survived by two children: a son, 17, and a daughter, 11.
And, if that wasn’t enough, two members of a motorcycle club that was formed to help it’s members stay clean and sober were killed by an alleged drunk driver who crossed the center lane into their path. Keith Michaelson and Michael Zadoyko and seven other members of the Last Chance Motorcycle Club, were enroute to a wake for a member who passed away in Pennsylvania.
The group was riding a twisty section of Route 512 in Bangor, Pennsylvania when a pick-up truck driven by John P. Heaney III, 49, of Lopatcong Township crossed the center line into the group. The District Attorney told reporters that alcohol was evident and that charges against Heaney are “pending.”