N’side bikers grieve loss of riding mates


Madison police aren’t saying whether they will charge the man involved in a recent car crash that led to the death of two Northside motorcyclists late last month.

On the afternoon of July 28, Robert Lenoir and Jack Harper, both of Jackson, were killed when a driver crashed into them on Mississippi 463 in Madison.

The incident occurred around 2:30 that afternoon. Lenoir and Harper were pronounced dead on the scene.

Harper was named in the Sun’s July magazine feature, “Road Warriors.”

The victims were riding with two others when the driver of a pickup veered into the eastbound lane and struck them head-on, police say.

The four were returning home from a 200-mile ride to Vicksburg and were on the final stretch.

Fellow riders David Potvin and Jeff Rickles sustained injuries but were expected to make full recoveries.

The case was still under investigation and the identity of the pickup driver was not being released, according to Kevin Newman, a captain with the Madison Police Department.

Newman couldn’t confirm or deny details of the incident found on social media. He also wouldn’t say whether the driver would be charged.

“Generally, these types of fatality investigations can take two months, with all the tests that have to be done,” he said. “There are many tests that have to be completed.

“Once that’s done and we consult with the district attorney, we’ll have more information.”

According to social media and victim’s reports, the driver said he was searching for his cell phone when he lost control of the vehicle.

He hit three of the motorcycles head-on and grazed the other.


The accident likely represents one of the worst nightmares for motorcyclists - distracted drivers.

“He reached for his cell phone and veered over,” said Joe Horsman. “Two good guys died because of another guy searching for his cell phone. That’s the moral of the story.”

Horsman and Tom Garrity were among the riders that day.

The two live in neighborhoods off of 463 and left the group shortly before the incident.

Horsman received a phone call from Rickles as soon as he pulled into his driveway.

“He said there was a wreck with fatalities. We got there, and the first responders had already blocked off the road,” he said. “We parked in Windsor Hills and walked down.”

Rickles had a bruised arm and torn up saddle bag. Potvin was sitting on the side of the street, dazed, and medics were working on Harper and Lenoir.

“It seemed like the (destruction) went on for 50 yards,” he said. “It was terrible.”

A medical helicopter landed but took off minutes later, after medics were unable to resuscitate Lenoir and Harper.

Horsman doesn’t know if he would have been hit had he still been riding that afternoon but felt lucky to be alive.

“It was not really a motorcycle wreck but a car wreck. If it had been a head-on collision with two cars, I don’t know if there would have been survivors,” he said.

Joe Schmelzer arrived on the scene after Harper and Lenoir had been pronounced dead.

“By then, the air ambulance was gone … and David had been taken to the trauma unit,” he recalled. “(David’s) doing well. He was at the funeral but has six to eight weeks (of recovery).”

Schmelzer skipped out on the ride that morning. Had he ridden, he would have been with the group when the incident occurred.

Although he didn’t ride that day, he’s still a little shaken up. He didn’t know whether the driver should be charged.

“We all know the risks when we ride. A lot of people take risks,” he said. “This is one of those things that wasn’t caused by riders’ error at all. There was no reason for it, but a distracted driver.

“It’s just one of those tragedies. We accept it and move on.”







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