(Posted Sept. 28, 2021)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Over the course of the morning of Sept. 25, dozens of motorcyclists roared into the parking lot outside of Crown Sports Lounge in London. For the second straight year, riders gathered to remember two of their own and to rally against distracted driving.
At noon, the call was made for “kickstands up,” at which time nearly 100 bikes and other vehicles took off on a memorial ride across Madison County to honor Joshua “Squatch” Kimbler and Donielle “Dickie” Peterman. The two lost their lives last year while participating in a poker run to benefit Madison County Special Olympics. A passing motorist went left of center and crashed into their bike.
“I can’t say enough about (Joshua and Donielle). They were always out supporting the community. They are missed every day,” said Rob Slane, a rider and Madison County resident who participated in the poker run and saw the crash.
Jethro Kimbler, a London resident and national president of the Forgotten Ones Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club, initiated the memorial ride last year shortly after the accident to honor Joshua and Donielle and to help their families. This year, participants raised $5,400 to be split between Joshua’s son and Donielle’s daughter.
They also raised awareness, circulating a petition calling for stronger distracted driving laws and wearing orange bandanas to promote “Hands-Free Ohio.” Hands-Free Ohio is a state-level proposal to make driving while handling any electronic device a primary offense for adult drivers and to increase fines for drivers who habitually use devices while driving. The proposal also calls for stiffer penalties in cases where a driver using a device causes serious injury or death.
“I’m tired of seeing distracted driving. Enough is enough,” said Slane who helped to organize the rally this year and last year and favors stricter laws and penalties. “The culture needs to change. The state needs to promote this like they do ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ and ‘Click It or Ticket.’ They need to make this as recognizable as those campaigns.”
State senators Stephanie Kunze, 16th District, and Sean O’Brien, 32nd District, submitted Senate Bill 285 (aka “Hands-Free Ohio”) in February 2020. The bill has failed to gain traction in the Senate. Slane plans to submit the petition circulated at this year’s memorial ride and rally to legislators to keep the issue in front of them.
The American Legion Riders, affiliated with London Post 105, joined the Forgotten Ones Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club in sponsoring this year’s ride and rally.