The injured motorcyclist in a mid-August accident involving a horseback rider wants his side of the story told.
Comox resident Ron Douglas, 75, broke six ribs and punctured a lung after a motorcycle crash on the Dove Creek Road bridge on Aug. 16.
Also involved in that accident was horseback rider Colleen Ware, who was crossing the bridge on her mare with her dog at the same time, in the opposite direction.
Ware and Douglas share slightly differing accounts of what led to the crash. Ware believes Douglas was speeding as he rounded the blind corner approaching the bridge, while Douglas insists the presence of Ware’s dog off-leash is what caused him to crash.
The Record reported the incident but was initially unable to contact Douglas, who spent some time in hospital following the crash. Douglas is now recovering at his home in Comox with his sister, who flew in from Manitoba to care for him.
“The way I look at it, the whole thing revolves around the dog,” said Douglas. “The dog was off-leash, sent to go across that bridge on its own and I’m coming on to the bridge at the same time there’s a dog running loose on the bridge. I tried to avoid the dog and I went down.”
Because of the lack of shoulder on that particular road, Ware crosses Dove Creek on the left side of the bridge when she’s riding her horse. Motorists often come around the corners above the 60 km/h speed limit, which she said can spook her horses when they’re crossing. There is only a two-foot-high railing separating the bridge from the creek bed below.
As Douglas’ crashed motorcycle came sliding towards Ware on Aug. 16, her horse panicked, back-pedalled and turned around into the other lane. Ware said she was lucky there were no cars coming from the other direction at the time, and that the horse didn’t jump over the railing into the creek bed, which would have been a 15-foot drop.
“It was nobody’s particular fault, it’s just a [crappy] situation that needs to be taken care of,” said Ware of the crash.
The original Record story insinuated that Douglas was speeding as he approached Ware. He said that was not the case, but that the sight of Ware’s dog on the bridge is what caused him to crash.
“I came around the corner and all I saw was the dog. I’m slowing down, and the dog is right in front of me, I must have come onto the brakes too hard and the bike went down,” said Douglas.
“My friend who was riding behind me, he stopped his bike, walked over to me and asked if I was okay. I was moaning and groaning in pain. She came over to me and I said something like, ‘why is the dog running loose on the bridge?’ Then I corrected myself and said ‘it’s not the dog’s fault, it’s the owner’s fault.’
“It is against the law to have a dog off leash. It’s in the bylaws. Everyone keeps their dog on leash so they can be kept under control.”
A former horseback rider himself, Douglas said he is always careful when noticing horses while riding his motorcycle.
“If I see a horse… I slow right down and I pull over into the opposite lane to where the horse is and I go very slowly,” he said. “If I see a horse is the slightest bit nervous, I’ll even stop my bike and let the horseback rider pass me.”
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure sent the following reply to a Record interview request: “Ministry staff are aware of the concerns expressed by the local horse riding community about this section of Dove Creek Road. As a result, ministry staff are reviewing the signs currently in place to alert drivers to the presence of horses to consider options for relocating or adding signs both on the approaches to the bridge and the structure itself. As well, the ministry works closely with local police regarding safety concerns that are related to speed enforcement.”