8 motorcyclists killed in 9 days on Northeast Florida roads

Expert says spike in motorcycle deaths should have all drivers on alert

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Northeast Florida highways have proven deadly for motorcyclists this month. 

Since May 2, eight motorcyclists have been killed in crashes in Northeast Florida counties.

Michael Cosgrove, a safety expert and experienced motorcycle trainer, said the number of deaths this month from motorcycle crashes is a heavy blow to the community, and it shows that everybody needs to be alert and observant at all times.

“Those fatality areas, it would be hard to evaluate, because you don’t know what that person was thinking about when they were riding their motorcycle,” Cosgrove said. “The more populated areas, like Jacksonville, for example, you have to be on your game every second, because anything can happen in a very short period of time.”

The eight crash victims were:

  • Joe Canady, 36, who left behind five children, died 15 days after his wedding on May 2 when another driver turned into the path of his motorcycle on State Road 21, the FHP said.
  • Gary Larson, 65, died May 5 in a motorcycle crash on State Road 21 in Keystone Heights. FHP said Larson's motorcycle hit a pickup truck that was turning at an intersection.
  • Colby Harrison, 26, was killed on May 7 on Blanding Boulevard near the Clay County line. Investigators said his motorcycle hit a turning car, and he was not wearing a helmet at the time.
  • Derick Green, 39, was also killed May 7 in a motorcycle crash at the intersection of Ortega Boulevard and Verona Street.
  • Joseph Powell, 28, was killed May 8 while heading southbound on I-95 near I-295 on the north end of Jacksonville. The FHP said he lost control, hit a concrete barrier, was thrown from the motorcycle and was hit by a passing tractor-trailer.
  • Jason Franklin, 39, was also killed May 8 in a crash on the Westside. Investigators said he was not wearing a helmet when he lost control of his motorcycle near Memorial Park Road and Gill Court and hit a concrete culvert.
  • Thomas Dolan, 59, was killed May 10 in a crash in Flagler County on U.S. 1. The FHP said a woman crossed all northbound lanes to turn into the median, failing to yield to Dolan's motorcycle, which hit the car and threw him off. He was wearing a helmet, FHP said.
  • Stephanie Robinson, 22, also died May 10 when her motorcycle crashed on the Buckman Bridge while she was headed to a memorial for her friend Powell. She was wearing a helmet, FHP said.
  • Cosgrove, who teaches safety courses to beginners and avid riders, said motorcyclists have to be ready to take on the road and everything around them every time they ride.

    “It’s much more of a mental situation than it is a physical one,” Cosgrove said. “You have to be on your game at all times in terms of riding a motorcycle in order to effectively manage the risk.”

    Cosgrove said even with mirrors, riders always have blind spots on both sides of their bike

    “We recommend strongly any time you initiate a lane change that you always do a head check before you initiate that lane change,” Cosgrove said.

    Cosgrove said the majority of motorcycle deaths are caused by head injuries and simply putting on a helmet could make that statistic go down. Several of the riders killed this month were wearing helmets at the time.