Three members of the Fort Worth Harley Owners Group were injured Saturday when a van careened into a group of 60 plus motorcyclists. The group was on its way to Cornerstone Assistance Services in Fort Worth to celebrate a recent donation the group made to the charity in early July.
The bikers were riding in formation in the center lanes of eastbound I-30 through Fort Worth when a van in the right lane slammed into an exit barrier wall at the Lancaster exit near the I-30/I-35W interchange. Fort Worth Police say the impact forced her airbags to deploy and she couldn’t see. The van then veered into the middle of the motorcycles.
“Watching the car go into the line of motorcycles was almost like watching bowling pins because that’s really what it was like because the car kept bouncing off different motorcycles and motorcycles kept bouncing off the car,” said Matt Zavadsky, a paramedic with MedStar who was riding with the group.
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Other members of the Fort Worth Harley Owners group fear the driver may have been texting.
“Apparently she hit the wall first – we believe that she was possibly texting and driving,” said Craig Murphy, Member of the Fort Worth Harley Owners Group, “she hit the wall, her airbag deployed and all the smoke from the airbag restricted her vision and there was a second impact she hit the wall again, actually one of those dividers, and that knocked her in to the motorcyclists.”
Fort Worth Police attribute the accident to “inattentive driving” and say they don’t know what she was doing inside her car at the time of the accident.
“There is no excuse for that,” Murphy said, “I mean you know I was taught when you’re driving you need to think about driving – that’s not a time to be multitasking.”
Murphy says his friend Harold Barton was seriously injured in the accident.
“He’s a good man and he’s self-employed, an auto mechanic – he’s got a real small shop,” Murphy said.
According to Murphy, Barton owns Barton’s Garage in Fort Worth.
“We’re all going to help him as much as we can in his business life and in his personal life because we’re a motorcycle group and that’s what we do we look out for each other,” Murphy said.
Matt Zavadsky is also a friend of the victim. He was two motorcycles behind where the van plowed into the group of bikers and says Barton was thrown 30 to 40 feet from his bike.
“The first thing that goes through your mind when you see that is, “Oh my god please be with Harold while he is going through this moment,”” said Zavadsky.
Zavadsky immediately blocked the road and rushed to save his friend who was still wearing his helmet.
“The first victim that we went to was face down was difficult to assess whether or not he was breathing it appeared he was not so we turned him pretty quickly,” Zavadsky said.
Barton was rushed to John Peter Smith hospital in Fort Worth where Murphy says he underwent surgery on his arm and leg.
“He does have some significant injuries and he’ll be here for a long time, but he’s awake and he talking,” Zavadsky said. “ I was able to call his family members to let them know he is doing OK.”
Police say at this point the driver faces no charges.
“This is the worst wreck that I’ve been part of – certainly, I’ve responded to a lot worse, but this one was a little bit different because it’s not often you see an accident like this happening,” Zavadsky said.
“Nobody was killed, but I sure thought that there were going to be some fatalities today,” Murphy said. “Everybody was lucky.”