(Aug. 2, 2013) A brutal accident Wednesday afternoon on Coastal Highway near 84th Street has a scooter operator’s life hanging in the balance.
“We’re looking at multiple life-threatening injuries,” Ocean City Police Department Public Information Officer Mike Levy said. “The operator is still alive, so it’s not a fatality yet. But he is in extremely critical condition.”
The collision occurred just after 3 p.m. Wednesday in the southbound lane of Coastal Highway, between 83rd and 84th Streets. Police believe that the rider of the scooter, which appeared to be a Honda Ruckus, attempted to pass a bicycle that was also in the far right lane. The operator apparently went too far to the left, however, and entered the third lane of traffic, colliding with the right side of a passing box truck and being crushed under its rear wheels.
Police also believe the rider was under the influence of alcohol and that the driver of the box truck was not at fault.
“No one has been arrested, and there are no charges pending at this point,” Levy said. “But the incident is still under investigation.
Bystanders described the scene as “grisly.” Even after the victim had been put into an ambulance, a pile of bloody clothing – cut off the victim’s body by paramedics – remained on the highway near the wrecked scooter.
Police had initial difficulty identifying the operator, given his severe condition, Levy said.
Wednesday’s collision was the 25th scooter accident in the resort this year, Levy said. That number is considerably down, however, from last year. Scooter accidents from January to July of 2012 numbered over 70, according to Levy’s data.
“There have also been no fatalities this year, either pedestrian or traffic-related, which is an improvement,” Levy said. “I don’t know if this one will become our first.”
Public concern over the number of accidents involving scooters during the summer of 2011 caused to city to enact an ordinance in the spring of 2012, requiring all scooter rental businesses to provide a practice area for riders and adhere to strict guidelines for making sure that riders are capable on the machines.
The scooter in Wednesday’s incident was privately owned and was not a rental, Levy said.
The presence of scooters in the resort has been down this year, due largely to a new state law that requires scooter operators to carry insurance. Policies are extremely expensive, compared to the low cost of scooters themselves, with annual premiums often out-stripping the value of the vehicle itself.
As such, the number of scooter rental shops in the resort has dwindled from 20 last year to only eight this year, according to the city’s zoning department.