Wednesday, May 18, 2011


There was quite a debate on the radio today concerning a twenty year old pile driving a police cruiser at 140 M.P.H. As far as I know they were just going to pull him over for speeding when he bolted. The officer had him on radar going 104 just after 4:00am. Here are the details from the Detroit Free Press.



Authorities say a motorcyclist who died at the end of a chase early Tuesday hit 140 m.p.h. while fleeing from officers.

Lansing Community College student Carl Stamm, 20, died in the 4:20 a.m. accident on I-96 in Handy Township, just west of Fowlerville Road, according to the Livingston County Sheriff's Department.

"He was a happy-go-lucky kid," Jeffrey Stamm of Almont said of his nephew.

Carl Stamm had a valid motorcycle endorsement on his Michigan license, a clean driving record and was wearing a helmet, according to investigators.

Livingston County Sheriff Bob Bezotte said Stamm, who worked as a custodian at Michigan State University, sped up after deputies spotted him driving 104 m.p.h. and tried to pull him over.

Stamm was driving his blue 2001 Yamaha YZF600R at least 140 m.p.h. before he hit the back of a Fowlerville village police car that was trying to join the chase, Bezotte said.

"For anybody to blame the police, you can't allow anybody to do 140 on the expressway and not try to stop him," Bezotte said. "He's not only endangering his life, but other motorists. It's a tragedy he lost his life, and my heart goes out to the family. But he controlled everything."

The accident closed westbound I-96 for about five hours. It occurred hours before Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson arrived on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle to a gathering at Oakland Community College's Farmington Hills campus to promote motorcycle safety and education.

"That's just tragic and sad, 20 years old," said Johnson, who grew up riding motorcycles in her native Waterford. "You can do all kinds of safety classes. But anytime you try to elude the police -- whether it's on a motorcycle or in a car -- it's a recipe for disaster."

There were 127 motorcyclists killed in accidents in 2010, up 23% from 2009 when 103 cyclists were killed, according to Johnson. She attributed the rise to better weather in 2010.

And with gas prices possibly driving up the number of motorcyclists on the road, she fears the number could be higher this year.

All the debate was about who was at fault and people who buy "crotch rockets" buy them only for their speed and ride like this on a regular basis. A few informed and educated riders called in to put up an argument that the vast majority of sport bike pilots ride their bikes in a sane responsible fashion and get bad press whenever something like this happens.

I was really surprised by the number of callers who blamed the cop he hit for this tragedy. I have a hard time blaming the cops when someone is running from them and rear ends one of their cruisers. Only God and that kid know what was on his mind when he decided to lead a high speed chase. Unfortunately he is not around to explain his actions. The end result is a young life is snuffed out way too early in a completely avoidable situation. All that keeps running through my mind is, why.


SonjaM said...

Sad to see a young life wasted. An unnecessary death. But to blame the police for protecting the public from the speeder would be wrong. Whatever the kid was up to I a somewhat relieved that his actions didn't claim another life. I feel for his family and friends. So sad.

Raftnn said...

Why,....I know how youare feeling. It is a tragic waste of a young life. We willnever know the answer is. We have similar incidents happen here and at times it makes me sick to the stomach. When you are young....death is the furtherest thing from your mind.

Gymi said...

I wish there was a way to keep tragedies like this from happening. Unfortunately there is no stepped license laws in the U.S. When you get your license a sixteen year old can walk into a dealership and they will hand you the keys to ZX10 or a B-King if you ante up the entry fee.

I don’t think education will completely eliminate incidents like this, but may prevent a few.

The time of this accident went a long way to keeping others out of harms way. Two hours later and we would probably be talking about the others he might have took out with himself. The whole thing just has me shaking my head.

bayou_boy504 said...

You're right Gymi; I too am left with the question, why?

Was the young man simply hoping to disappear into the darkness? There are many, many why questions, but ultimately, it may be best just to watch this video and remember that when the cops hit you with their lights, pull over.

I've seen people run from the police, and it never, ever ends well when the driver (or rider) decides to hammer down on the gas.

Thanks for posting this story.

red said...

Out of curiosity, at what point does stopping a speeder justify additional vehicles driving at excessive speeds?

Gymi said...

That's a good question Red. A situation such as this, at such an early hour, would have a tendency to attract more cruisers than needed for the job. There is not a hell of a lot going on in that part of town at four am. Every cop in the area would be pulled toward the chase. The thing is, it ended badly for all involved and that there really was no reason for it makes it that more tragic in my book. I really don’t know what affect adding or subtracting police units would have had.

Anonymous said...

According to the police, they were trying to stop this speeder before and accident happened... yet, they caused the accident when they decided to pull in front of the bike and bring it to a halt that way. If the crusier were "joining" the chase, as police stated, they wouldnt' have chosen to merge onto the freeway "on" the motorcycle.

I can't tell you what a huge tragedy this is for the family. I think you hit the nail on the head when the posted spoke of young kids not thinging they will die. Most of us were that age at one point and this is just such a tragedy that could have been avoided. At what point of pursuit do officers decided to re-evaluate the situation and decide that the risks outweigh the "rewards?".

My heart is very, very heavy for this family. Carl was a VERY good kid who made a very bad choice and in my opinion, the "educated" officers made an even worse one when they decided they'd treat this rider like he was driving a car and pulled out in front of him. That officer should not be on the beat any longer... he's a terrible decision maker under pressure. And, that terrible decision making cost someone else their life and a family their son.

Gymi said...

Unfortunately making bad decisions is part of the human condition. From all accounts Carl was a very decent kid and it is a shame that his life ended so soon and in such an avoidable fashion.

The object of this post is not to lay blame at the feet of Carl or the Police. My aim was to point out when one chooses to make decisions such as the one Carl made, the consequences very often turn out to end in tragedy. As Raftnn pointed out, when we are as young as Carl was, we do indeed have a feeling invincibility, I know I did. I have been riding motorcycles of one type or other for over forty years. I have been pulled over for speeding several times in that span. Not one time did I choose to run from the cops. When I was Carl’s age, I did give it a thought or two, but my better judgment always won out.

The debate on this subject will rage until the end of time whether it is about what happened in Fowlerville the morning of the 17th or the next unfortunate episode. The two sides will always be at odds about who is at fault. I can guarantee, besides the Stamm family, no one feels worse about this incident than the officer whose cruiser Carl ran into.

Mike said...

I agree with Anonymous. The trained officer's decision to pull out infront of a motorcyclist was an extremely poor one, but, as others have also pointed out, so was the lads decision to run away. Perhaps the whole "fight or flight" thing kicked in and he just pinned it. If the police had taken note of the number plate and ended the chase on safety grounds Carl may still be alive. Or he may have crashed farther up the road taking a corner too fast. A you pointed out Gymi, this one could be debated forever.

Gymi said...

True Mike, this is one debate I would like to see put to rest for good. It would be great if there was a way to avoid these situations altogether. Being human, we will continue to make bad decisions and so the debate goes on.

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