Although complete statistics for the year 2013 have not yet been released, it would not surprise us to learn that motorcycle fatalities continued the upward trend reported for 2012, when more than 5,000 bikers lost their lives in the U.S. due to traffic accidents. That was a 9% rise over 2011, according to the Governors Highway Safety Assn.
Statistics are dry and so easily put aside in our minds — until someone we know joins those numbers. On Monday a prominent area doctor, 53-year-old Thomas Grosch, by all accounts a man of wisdom, humor and faith, lost his life while riding north on the 2 (Glendale) Freeway, headed home from his Burbank workplace to his La Cañada home astride his Harley. We don’t know much in the way of details of his fatal spill beyond the fact it was just before 6 p.m. and therefore dark outside. About 300 feet of skid marks were found on the road and a CHP spokesman told us that Grosch might have been traveling too fast prior to losing control of his motorcycle.
Over his years as a physician, Grosch held leadership roles at Glendale Memorial, Providence Saint Joseph’s Medical Center and USC Verdugo Hills Hospital. He is mourned by family, friends, patients and his most recent, as well as former, co-workers. And we are all left shaking our heads, wondering why this intelligent man lost his life in a seemingly senseless incident.
Just one day before Grosch died, a 55-year-old Los Angeles man, Manuel Morales, also driving a motorcycle, died on Angeles Crest Highway. The coroner’s office told us that Morales, whose bike collided with a car, was apparently riding at a “high rate of speed” at the time of that accident. Morales is no doubt also mourned by many who loved and admired him: his family, his friends and his associates.
These two local fatalities in such a short period are grim reminders that motorcyclists are all-too vulnerable, nearly as much as are bicyclists and pedestrians. When they’re in an accident, the outcomes are more serious. Take care out there. If you are behind the wheel of a bigger vehicle, watch out for those on two wheels. If you’re a biker, keep your speeds down and your wits about you. It may be thrifty and fun to be on the back of a motorcycle, but do not tempt fate.