Woman dies after attempting wheelie
By Alexa James
Montgomery Ė Men and women who ride motorcycles understand the risks. If something goes wrong on a bike, the resulting injuries are usually serious or life threatening.
Even so, millions take that chance for the thrill and passion of the cycling experience, and increasing numbers are participating in stunt classes to learn "safer" ways to perform tricks.
About 1 p.m. Sunday, the Los Angeles-based company On One Wheel was using a rented stretch of tarmac at the Orange County Airport to help riders practice popping wheelies.
Something went wrong.
According to Town of Montgomery police, Leslie R. Duco, 46, was participating in the wheelie class when she lost control of a Triumph motorcycle and was thrown from the bike.
Sgt. Dennis Barnett said Duco was treated on-site by Montgomery County Regional EMS, already on standby at the airport, and transported by Mobile Life Support Services to Orange Regional Medical Center in Middletown, where she later died.
Police said the cause of death has not yet been determined.
"The pavement was wet, (but) right now it does not appear that the weather had anything to do with it," Barnett said. "It's not prudent to do those kinds of maneuvers in inclement weather."
A reconstruction and investigation by Montgomery police and the Orange County Sheriff's Office is continuing.
While there's no risk-free way to practice motorcycle stunts, On One Wheel uses a modified training bike equipped with anti-flip devices designed to slow the bike and lower it back to the ground. According to the company's Web site, one device activates a "rev limiter" to kill one of the engine's three cylinders, and the other device applies the rear brake. The training bike can also be adjusted for different wheelie heights.
According to the Web site, Sunday's class was the last of three consecutive days of sold-out training courses at the airport. The next series of classes is scheduled from June 10 to 12. Lessons cost $495 per day.
Orange County spokesman Steve Gross said On One Wheel had the appropriate permits and insurance to conduct classes at the airport. It's not unusual for the airport to rent to private organizations. "We have a number of venues that rent space from the airport from time to time," Gross said. In the past, bus drivers have trained on unused runway.
Duco's family could not be reached yesterday. A spokesman for On One Wheel could not discuss the accident by press time yesterday.