W.V. rider killed, Mopeds & riders are to blame

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W.V. rider killed, Mopeds & riders are to blame

Postby Micronaut » Thu Nov 23, 2006 12:51 pm

Moped driver dies in accident on W.Va. 9

By LAUREN HOUGH / Journal Staff Writer
http://www.journal-news.net/News/articl ... cleID=5096

MARTINSBURG — A fatal accident Thursday night involving the driver of a moped brought to light the tragic consequences of operating such vehicles on high-speed roadways, police said.

Michael John Mowatt, 47, of Kearneysville, was killed on impact when he veered into the path of oncoming traffic on Charles Town Road, W.Va. 9 East, around 8:30 p.m.

Eyewitnesses reported to the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department that Mowatt was traveling westbound on the road, but was weaving onto and off the roadway edge on his moped.

After crossing the Opequon Bridge, vehicles traveling behind Mowatt slowed before he suddenly crossed the center line into the eastbound lane of traffic, where he was struck by a van, said Deputy S. Myers, who investigated the accident.

According to police reports, the van that collided with Mowatt’s moped then entered the westbound lane, striking a second van head-on.

Five occupants from the two vehicles were transported to City Hospital in Martinsburg, treated and released, Myers said. No charges are pending.

While Mowatt was wearing a helmet, his moped was reduced to “hundreds of parts, lying everywhere,” Myers said.

Mopeds, equipped with engines sized at only 50 cubic centimeters (CCs), travel at a maximum speed of 30 miles per hour, but are permissible on roadways with much higher speed limits.

“It’s a vehicle that can be operated on a public highway that can’t maintain a proper speed,” Myers said.

An influx of the small cycles has recently hit the region, and could lead to an increase in traffic accidents.

“They’re everywhere,” he said. “They’ve just now become a pretty big item.”

As a spike in ATV-related fatalities led to legislation regarding these vehicles, Myers said he doesn’t expect new governance regarding mopeds to be far behind.

“It’s just a problem that needs to be addressed,” he said.

It remains unclear to officials why Mowatt was weaving across the lanes of traffic, though his blood will be sent to the state police laboratory for toxicology results, Myers said.

Mowatt’s family, located in Naples, Fla., was notified of the accident. His body has been sent to Brown’s Funeral Home.

— Staff writer Lauren Hough can be reached at 263-8931, ext. 163, or at lhough@journal-news.net
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