03 November 2022

Dead from blunt force head trauma

In the late 1990s, when Florida bikers were still required to wear helmets, Pinellas lawyer Ron Smith was an aggressive advocate for overturning the law.

Smith was a member of ABATE — A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments and American Bikers Aimed Toward Education — which lobbied against the law for years. He represented clients who ran afoul of Florida’s motorcycle requirements in court cases that some say helped overturn Florida’s helmet law.

Smith didn’t like being told what to do and valued his independence, said Dave Newman, who met the attorney through an American Legion post in Old Town where they were both members.

“He thought everybody should have their own choice,” Newman said.

In 2000, Smith’s aspiration was realized when the Florida Legislature passed a law allowing motorcyclists over 21 to go without head protection as long as they had $10,000 in insurance coverage for motorcycle accident injuries.

In August, Smith and his girlfriend, Brenda Jeanan Volpe, were riding a motorcycle on U.S. 19 in Pinellas County. They were headed to a memorial service for another biker who had died of cancer.

Smith crashed the bike as he tried to slow for traffic ahead of him. Both he and Volpe were killed.

Neither was wearing a helmet...
It’s impossible to say whether a helmet would have prevented Smith’s and Volpe’s deaths, experts said. Smith’s autopsy report lists blunt head trauma as his cause of death and an initial report from the Hillsborough Medical Examiner’s Office also lists Volpe’s cause of death as head trauma...

Riders who had previously resisted helmets have started wearing them, Rodriguez said. And on his first ride after the deaths, Rodriguez made an observation while looking at all the riders in the group.

“Every single one had a helmet on,” he said.
More information at the Tampa Bay Times.  Karma is a bitch.  But perhaps in view of the final two paragraphs, this old saw may apply: "Everyone in life has a purpose, even if it's to serve as a bad example."


  1. My wife worked for years in physical rehab. She met an endless stream of men (always men) who weren't wearing helmets or protective gear when they crashed their motorcycles. Traumatic brain injuries, paralysis, cognitive damage--all these things wrecked the lives of not only the motorcyclists but also the spouses, children, and relatives who had to care for them. Eventually the cost of care drained their finances and the motorcyclists ended up on public assistance, where the rest of us got to pay for their freedom to make "personal choices."

    Those who whine about wanting these "freedoms" are living in the fairy tale that their actions affect only themselves--"So what if I kill myself. It's only me I hurt." It's the same freedom vaccine and mask resisters demand: the freedom to endanger others so they themselves aren't inconvenienced.

    1. "where the rest of us got to pay for their freedom to make "personal choices."

      This sounds like something one of those those right wing extremists say when they protest against government funding of abortion and the relatively new policy of paying for travel expenses as well. As if people shouldn't have the freedom to have the rest of us to pay for their "personal choice."

      Those who whine about wanting these "freedoms" (such as abortion?) are living in the fairy tale that their actions affect only themselves--"So what if I abort this life growing in me?. It's only me that is affected." It's the freedom women demand: the freedom to abort an unwanted life so they themselves aren't inconvenienced".

      Freedom and rights seem like such simple concepts. We all have them, but we have different ideas regarding who should be able to exercise them and in what ways. Do people who don't wear motorcycle helmets assert that they should have freedom of choice? Do people who believe that women should control their own bodies assert that this is freedom of choice? Do either believe that the choice affects only the person making that choice?

  2. 25 years working in a level one trauma unit in Florida and all I can think of when I see someone riding their motorcycle without a helmet is, " there goes another organ donor."

  3. To paraphrase Voltaire: He died doing what he loved - being an idiot.

  4. I began bicycle racing in the early 80s. Hard-shell helmets were just becoming common and were required for races, but many did not wear them otherwise. One day I was out training and was rear ended by a car and, as near as I can reconstruct, flipped over backwards, taking the side mirror off the car with my shin and bouncing my head off the pavement. Overall I came out of the accident relatively unscathed ( a couple of stitches in my head and a badly swollen leg), but March 13, 1982 was the last day I rode without a helmet. It has (presumably) saved my from further head injury on at least three subsequent occasions. I have occasionally been distracted while starting a ride and forgotten to put it on, but within a few hundred feet I can tell something is not right and have to turn around to get it.
    My wrecks have been at 20 mph or less and my were enough that they could have been life-altering. At higher speeds there is no excuse to not be wearing (at least) head protection. If you don't care about your own life, think about those around you, either those who will have to provide your care or those who will mourn you.

  5. Seem like a nice couple. I'm sorry they're dead.

  6. The root causes of homelessness are lack of housing and lack of services. That said, those who lose in the "housing contest" are often brain injured men. About 40% in the Toronto study. How many due to motorcycle accidents? Probably a lot.

  7. I credit a helmet for saving my life. I had a car turn left in front of me while riding at about 30mph. I hit on the passenger's door and according to witnesses I was propelled almost straight up and landed on the roof of the car. I rolled off on to the pavement. I came to in the ambulance with no understanding of how I had ended up there. I suffered a concussion among other injuries. At that point I had been riding for about nine years and had worn a helmet every ride. I eventually started riding again and always wore a helmet.

  8. I am remembering all the tobacco smokers who also felt "I am only hurting myself" until we found out that second hand smoke was killing their families and neighbors.

  9. Some of the more moderate comments on twitter from a newspaper report of Mr. Smith's death:

    "Let’s mock him. It’s funny as hell."
    "Lol hilarious"
    "Praise Darwin!"
    "I won’t say he deserves it but God’s timing is always right"
    "Really just gotta love it"
    "Where are the Darwin Awards when you find somebody who would win the grand prize?"
    "Ain’t Karma Grande!!!"

  10. A friend is in need of a kidney transplant. He's in Nevada but they suggested he register in AZ because they don't have a helmet law so he's likely to get the transplant sooner there...


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