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Last updated: Wed. Jul. 30, 2014 - 04:47 pm EDT


Wheelie leads to collision

Witnesses saw flames erupt as bike hit pickup

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The woman sat on the sidewalk, smothering her face in towels and tissues as three men put their arms around her.

Just up the street, amid the destroyed motorcycle and debris littering the road, was her son. His left boot stuck out from the white sheet that medics used to cover him.

Feet away sat a charred pickup truck that ignited Tuesday when the motorcycle struck its fuel tank, bringing out onlookers from restaurants, businesses and homes dotting the area of State Boulevard and Bolton Street just west of Coliseum Boulevard.

In some cases, what they saw sent them quickly on their way.

“Ugliest thing I’ve seen,” one man said, shaking his head.

This was the aftermath of a fiery crash that ended one young man’s life and left Fort Wayne police investigators trying to piece together what happened.

A preliminary investigation and witness statements to police reveal the following:

The motorcyclist was heading east on State about 12:40 p.m., traveling at a “very high rate of speed.” He popped a wheelie, never slowing down.

The truck was facing west in a center turn lane. When its driver turned left into a KFC restaurant, the motorcycle struck the truck’s side at the fuel tank.

Some witnesses reported a small explosion. Others said a fire ignited and raged quickly. A pizza deliveryman in a nearby parking lot arrived with a fire extinguisher to help put out the blaze.

Others raced to the motorcyclist, who was not wearing a helmet.

“I tried to comfort the kid,” Enrique Arguello said.

Arguello was sipping a coffee at Starbucks in a strip mall when he saw the crash through the window. An avid motorcyclist, he went out to help and directed others not to move the young man, who has been described as in his early 20s.

Someone produced a rope, and the group dragged the motorcycle out from under him. Arguello leaned into the man’s face.

“I told him, ‘Go with God, brother. Go with peace,’ ” Arguello said.

Two men inside the truck escaped without injury.

Afterward, the driver of the truck smoked cigarettes while talking with a police detective.

A young woman ran up to the yellow police tape trying to get to him, and the detective caught sight of her.

“C’mon, get up here, girl,” the detective yelled.

The driver of the truck melted into her arms, the police tape the only thing between them as they embraced. She whispered into his ear. She put her hands on his back and checked to make sure he was still in one piece.

The name of the motorcyclist has yet to be released by the Allen County coroner. A memorial consisted of a cross in the grass where the crash happened along with notes from friends and loved ones.

Police continue to investigate and have not assigned responsibility in the crash.

A police spokesman said preliminary findings indicate speed was a factor.

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