Marvin Jarels, a 59-year-old postal clerk in Christiansburg, took an afternoon motorcycle ride with two friends Wednesday.
It would be his last.
The group rounded a curve on Virginia Rte. 8 in Riner and came up on a Ford pickup truck waiting to turn left off the hightway at Camp Carysbrook Road. Two of the three riders reacted in time and avoided hitting the truck. Jarels couldn’t stop or maneuver his Harley-Davidson and slammed into the back of the pickup truck. Rescue officials took him to a Montgomery Hospital but was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.
Jarels’ death came on the day the University of Rochester Medical Center released a study showing older motorcycle riders die more often in motorcycle crashes.
Researchers found that between 1996 and 2005 the average age of motorcyclists involved in crashes increased to about 39 from 34 and the proportion of injured riders aged 40-plus rose to about 50 percent from 28 percent.
The study found that of all injured riders in the study, those aged 50 to 59 represented the fastest growing group, while 20 to 29-year-olds were the most rapidly declining.
“We made the clinical observation that older patients – people in their 50s, 60s and even 70s – were being injured on motorcycles with increasing frequency,” Mark Gestring, director of the trauma program at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said in a statement.
“We wanted to see if this observation was true on a national level and we found that it was.”
Jarels’ crash was the second motorcycle-related death and third bike accident in the area in a week. On Monday, Drew Thomson, 58, of Martinsville died when his Harley struck a car that pulled out in front on him on U.S. 220 business at the Big Lots parking lot. Police charged Lewis Clark, 85, of Ridgeway with reckless driving.
A rider on the Blue Ridge Parkway suffered a broken collarbone struck a deer near Rocky Knob last Friday.
As a rider, I’ve had my share of spills and close calls but, fortunately, walked away with only bruises and scrapes. When you ride a motorcycle, you do so with the knowledge that the risk of serious injury or death is intensified.
I ride Rte. 8 and the Parkway often and approach every curve with the belief that something could be lurking just out of sight. Rte. 8 is a mine field of turning or slow moving vehicles and the need to take evasive action presents itself on almost every ride.
Marvin Jarels was well-known and popular figure in the Christianburg post office and in the area motorcycle community. His death is a loss to the community and our condolences go out to his family and friends.
His death also reminds those of us who ride that we always need to be careful out there.