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Motorcycle deaths rise in Illinois

Crystal Lake family details losing son in June crash

Published: Sunday, July 28, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST
Caption
(Photo provided)
Jessica Maioni and Scott Alcock were planning a wedding. Alcock, of Crystal Lake, was killed in a motorcycle crash.

CRYSTAL LAKE – In less than two weeks, Scott Alcock had planned to marry his longtime girlfriend. Just last month, he was set to close on his first home.

The Crystal Lake resident had a good job. He had loving parents. Three supportive brothers. A devoted fiancée. A college degree. A large group of friends.

His life's puzzle was coming together. And with his marriage to 28-year-old Jessica Maioni set for Aug. 10, his plans were almost complete. The two had been engaged for two years and dated for more than a decade, said his parents, Patrick and Carol Alcock.

"He had all his ducks in a row. He had all these plans," Patrick Alcock said.

But before the final pieces were in place, Alcock's life was cut short by a tragic motorcycle crash in Lakewood, when on June 18, a driver turned in front of him, police said. A 43-year-old Lakewood woman was issued a citation after the crash.

Scott Alcock died June 20. He was 30.

What's left is a family and a fiancée left trying to put the puzzle back together with a new, even bigger piece that's missing.

"A split second," Patrick Alcock said through bleary eyes. He paused to wipe the silent tears that began to fall. "It changed the dynamics of two families. Our family is devastated.

"A split-second decision on somebody's part and he's gone."

Sadly, Alcock's story is all too common, with a growing number of motorcycle fatalities in Illinois.

Statewide, fatal accidents are up 13 percent, according to data from the Illinois Department of Transportation. In 2010, there were 131 motorcycle fatalities, a figure that rose to 148 in 2012.

Locally, IDOT reports, there have been eight motor vehicle deaths this year, two of which were on motorcycles.

In 2008, McHenry County reached a high with six motorcycle deaths. Those figures dropped in subsequent years. There were four fatalities in 2011 and five in 2012. IDOT data also includes passengers, pedestrians and cyclists in its fatality figures.

A search of Northwest Herald archives revealed there have been four serious motorcycle crashes in McHenry County this summer that injured three and killed two, including Alcock. There was one death involving a motocross rider.

Experts say it's hard to pinpoint a single reason for the increase. But some say the increase in fatalities comes as more people – some of whom may not have had proper training – are riding motorcycles. In the past decade, there’s been a 57 percent increase in the number of registered motorcyclists in Illinois.

"Not everyone takes a motorcycle safety course," said Jeff Carlsen, director of the fee-based Woodstock Harley-Davidson Riding School. "There are a lot of people out there that don't have the skills or knowledge about what to do in certain circumstances."

Scott Alcock took a free motorcycle class offered at McHenry County College, his parents said.

Illinois is one of three states without a mandatory helmet law. State officials say that 110 of the 145 people who died in 2011 weren't wearing helmets.

Though he wore a helmet off and on, Scott Alcock wasn't wearing one when he died.

"[Motorcycle riders] should be twice as vigilant as those in cars, because they don't have the protection afforded to them as they would in a car," McHenry County Undersheriff Andy Zinke said. "We encourage everyone to wear a helmet."

But some motorcycle advocates say helmets can make cyclists less aware of their surroundings and have worked to defeat mandatory helmet laws.

Carol Alcock can replay Scott's final moments in the emergency room with remarkable clarity. His intact cellphone. No blood on his clothing. Not a scratch on his body, she said.

"They let us see him and I really thought I'd be OK. It looked like he was taking a nap," she said.

But doctors said a head injury was too catastrophic for him to recover.

Scott Alcock was an organ donor. Carol asked doctors – and they agreed – to play Jimi Hendrix, Scott's favorite, while they harvested his organs. The family recently received word that Scott's eyes have given sight to a person in Michigan.

But what offers the grieving mother a small bit of comfort is that Scott's "kind heart is in somebody else's body."

• The Associated Press contributed to this article.

McHenry County fatal crash summary

2013: 8 total crashes (2 motorcycle*)

2012: 22 total crashes (5 motorcycle including one passenger)

2011: 14 total crashes (4 motorcycle)

2010: 15 total crashes (3 motorcycle)

2009: 15 total crashes (2 motorcycle)

2008: 18 total crashes (6 motorcycle)

*through July 26

Source: Illinois Department of Transportation

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