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May 21, 2013 12:00 AM by Zach Thaxton

Motorcycle crash victim's family pleads for helmet safety

The family of a man who died in a motorcycle crash in northeast Colorado Springs Saturday is pleading with all motorcyclists to wear a helmet while riding.  Benjamin O'Neal, 27, was not wearing a helmet when he went off the side of eastbound Rangewood Road just west of Austin Bluffs Parkway Saturday night.  "He lost control of his bike, slammed into a tree, was not wearing his helmet, and he broke his neck," said O'Neal's best friend Steven Hancock.  "He was on his way to meet his girlfriend for dinner," Hancock said.  Colorado Springs police say speed was a contributing factor in the single-vehicle crash.

O'Neal's mother, Patricia Hammond, arrived Monday afternoon from the family's home in Hawaii to visit the scene of the crash.  She said O'Neal was the "best kid any mother could ever have."  The Iraq War veteran was father to a three-year-old and a one-and-a-half-year-old.  Hammond placed a lei on the tree O'Neal hit when he crashed.  She says she was not aware that O'Neal rode a motorcycle and was stunned to learn that he was not wearing a helmet considering the fact that O'Neal's grandfather was not wearing a helmet when he died in a moped accident several years ago.

"People who don't wear a helmet, you really have to ask yourself:  is it worth it to leave everybody behind," Hancock asked.  "All it takes is that one time you don't wear a helmet and something bad happens," he continued.  "And in this case, it did."

In a separate incident, a Texas man suffered serious injuries in a single-vehicle motorcycle crash Sunday afternoon east of Pueblo.  Alan Dortch, 61, from Loveland, Texas, was flown to Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs after crashing his motorcycle along U.S. Highway 50 near the Apishapa Bridge between Fowler and Manzanola.  Dortch was also not wearing a helmet.  He was last reported in serious condition in the Intensive Care Unit.

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