Catch us live on BlogTalkRadio every

Tuesday & Thursday at 6pm P.S.T.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Two killed, several hurt in multi-motorcycle crash in Westmoreland, NH

By Kaitlin Mulhere / Sentinel Staff 
WESTMORELAND — Two men were killed and several others injured Saturday in an accident on Route 12 during an annual motorcycle memorial ride honoring a fallen war hero from Newport.The crash happened about 11:45 a.m. as nearly 200 motorcycles made their way from Newport to Keene.Robert Lockerby, 87, of Walpole was driving north on Route 12 near the Route 63 turnoff when he crossed the center line and struck several motorcycles, according to a news release from N.H. State Police.Witnesses said that caused a chain-reaction crash among the motorcyclists, who tried to swerve and slam on their brakes to avoid the collision.Some motorcyclists were unable to stop and ran into the first two motorcycles that had been hit head-on by the car, police said.Police were unsure what caused Lockerby to swerve into the other lane. He was taken to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon and his condition is unknown.Gary Champney, 59, of Alstead, and Aaron Robar, 41, of Newport, died at the scene, police said.Police said five other riders were injured: George Lathrup, 55, of Claremont; Peter Franklin, 45, of Newport; Mark Mason, 56, of Newbury; Austin Aubin, 62, of Charlestown; and Ronald Butcher, 51, of Springfield.The passenger in the car, Sally Lockerby, 87, of Walpole also was injured.Two of those injured were airlifted to hospitals, one to the UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Mass., and the other to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon.Police gave no further details about the severity of the injuries.The ride was the sixth annual Ride for the Fallen honoring Army Specialist Justin A. Rollins of Newport, who was killed in Iraq in March 2007. The event is held to raise money for a memorial scholarship, but just as importantly, it was started to commemorate Rollins’ death and preserve his memory.Both men who were killed were members of the Claremont chapter of Rolling Thunder, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness for prisoners of war, soldiers missing in action and veterans organizations. Many group members are both motorcycle riders and veterans.About 12:30 p.m. Saturday, dozens of riders grouped together with their motorcycles on the side of the southbound lane. They checked on friends and made phone calls to family members.A tan, four-door sedan with a smashed windshield and hood sat diagonally in the southbound lane next to a handful of motorcycles, a couple of which were mangled and in pieces.Emergency workers at the scene moved between police cars, fire trucks and up to seven ambulances.Farther down the road, a silvery blue Harley Davidson lay on its side in the grass with little damage. Its rider, however, was on a stretcher about 30 yards away being tended to by paramedics.One woman, a chaplain with the Rolling Thunder group, said she was directly in front of the blue motorcycle. She said heard a loud pop and said she thought her friend behind her had blown a tire. She said she turned around to see the wreckage she and the man she was riding with narrowly avoided.The ride was being led by a marked police cruiser and two police motorcycles, with their blue lights flashing, witnesses said.Riders said the group was on its way to the Veterans Memorial in front of the Keene Recreation Center on Washington Street. The ride started at 10:30 a.m. at Newport High School and was supposed to end there at 2:30 p.m. with a barbecue and live music.After the accident, many riders said they still planned to return to Newport High School to honor those who’d been injured.Rollins was killed in Iraq in 2007 by an improvised explosive device.About a mile long section of Route 12 was closed for nearly seven hours while the N.H. State Police Technical Accident Reconstruction Team investigated, police said. The crash remains under investigation.
Kaitlin Mulhere can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1439, or