Be careful out there!
Police set up traps for speeding sport bikes
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
LEBANON - The rider twisted the throttle on his Honda racing motorcycle and whizzed up Route 72 at 82 mph toward Jonestown last week.
As he sped past the state police barracks, the rider popped a wheelie. He rode on one wheel for the distance of about two football fields while passing a car.
Troopers were waiting to catch him and the growing number of sport bike riders who have been speeding and taunting police by doing stunts near the barracks.
Cpl. Patrick Mannion charged Jacob D. Sattazahn, 18, of Pine Grove, with speeding and reckless driving.
He said riders such as Sattazahn pull wheelies in front of the barracks for the thrill.
Mannion said police are receiving an increasing number of complaints about the dangerous driving habits of "crotch rocket" riders.
"What we've seen is that it's a trend. It's happening all over the place, not just in front of our barracks," Mannion said this week. "And, being summertime, we expect to have a lot more complaints."
That's why state police are planning a summer loaded with speed traps aimed at sport bike riders. It's one of the few ways to catch the racing bikes, which can reach speeds of 200 mph in a matter of seconds.
"Sports bikes are known for fleeing police," Mannion said. "A trooper just had two motorcycles race past him at 147 mph on I-78, and he couldn't catch them. We set up a detail four exits up, but they must have gotten off somewhere in between."
Speeding is partly blamed for the death of a 50-year-old Pine Grove man who crashed his sport bike in South Annville Twp. on June 14. Police say Warren P. Landes had a blood-alcohol level above legal limits at the time of the accident.
Landes was driving at least 100 mph as he passed traffic in a no-passing zone between Louser Road and Meadow Lane, and he lost control of the motorcycle, Mannion said. Landes slid about 500 feet before he was struck by a car. The motorcycle slid about 800 feet before hitting a guardrail, the trooper added.
Sattazahn, meanwhile, could be fined $400 and have his driver's license suspended for six months. Mannion said Sattazahn, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, has pleaded guilty to the citations.
"He apologized," Mannion said. "He told me he did it in the safest place he knew. It's nice and smooth out there."