After 5 motorcycle fatalities in one week in Calcasieu, authorities, biker community share tips to prevent tragedy

Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 9:23 PM CST
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - There have been five fatalities in four separate motorcycle crashes in Calcasieu Parish in just one week.

Between Monday, Feb. 20, and Monday, Feb. 27, these crashes have taken the lives of Kelly Bowman, Jeffery Spell, Connie Fontenot, Tyrel Thompson and Jonathon Wallace, all residents of Calcasieu Parish.

“My late husband was killed on a motorcycle on his way to work,” Angie Thompson said. “The person that hit him. The first thing they said was, I didn’t see him.”

It’s a tragedy that prompted Angie Thompson to advocate for awareness on the roadway. She and her husband Tony Thompson run the “Biker Down SWLA” Facebook group to voice an important message.

“It makes more people aware of how many accidents are out there in the city and in the county,” Tony Thompson said.

Angie Thompson said the biggest mistake other motorist make is turning left in front of a motorcycle or not paying attention.

“When they come to a stop sign, they don’t look both ways,” Thompson said. “They say they didn’t see us. In town is the worst place for a motorcycle accident.”

You might hear a biker rev their engine or ride to where you can see them in your mirrors.

“You want to be alert,” Tony Thompson said. “You don’t want to take your eyes off the road or the situation that you’re in.”

It’s a shared responsibility for motorcyclists as it is others on the road.

Deputy Chief Stitch Guillory said motorcyclists should wear proper head and eye gear, as well as reflective clothing at night. They should also observe speed limits and have a heightened awareness.

“When you’re riding a motorcycle, it’s important to ride in the right position where other drives can see you,” Guillory said.

And of course - no drunk driving.

“It’s important that you be mindful of that you are looking ahead in case there are other hazards that are ahead of you, so that you will have time to react to them,” Guillory said.

Guillory said drivers should not follow too closely to a motorcyclist. You should also check your blind spots and mirrors.