Police and motorcyclists say the trick riding that led to a fatal crash in Bridgton on Monday is rare and shouldn’t reflect on the vast majority of riders.

Witnesses told police that Justin Dilks, 34, was standing on the seat of his 2004 Harley-Davidson Night Train as he rode at the 55 mph speed limit down Route 302, waving with one hand and steering with the other when he lost control.

Another motorcyclist was injured as she tried to avoid the accident.

Bridgton Police Chief David Lyons said it was an unusual situation.

“Most motorcyclists don’t do dangerous maneuvers like that on the highway,” he said. “Thank goodness it doesn’t happen often, or we’d see more of this.”

Denis Laliberte of Naples Custom Motor Sports said the crash was the talk of his shop Tuesday.

“The only thing people keep saying is (that) he wasn’t riding properly and that was his downfall,” Laliberte said.

He said some people try trick riding in controlled areas, but it doesn’t make sense on the highway.

Sgt. John O’Malley, head of Scarborough’s motorcycle patrol, said he rarely sees motorcyclists doing dangerous tricks, but it happens.

State law requires a rider to keep both wheels on the ground. Standing on the seat is not expressly against the law, but O’Malley said he would ticket anyone who did it, for dangerous driving.

Dilks, who was from Quincy, Mass., crashed in front of Macdonald Motors at 5:22 p.m. Monday. Witnesses told police that he pitched over the handlebars and hit the pavement.

Lyons said Dilks was in a group of four riders who had come from the nearby Trailside Restaurant, heading north. Police are investigating to determine whether Dilks had been drinking.

Marjorie Loonie, 47, of Melrose, Mass., was following Dilks on a black 2006 Harley-Davidson and crashed as she tried to avoid him, police said.

Loonie suffered head injuries. She was taken to Bridgton Hospital, then flown by helicopter to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, where a spokeswoman said she had been released late Tuesday.

Neither Dilks nor Loonie was wearing a helmet.

Dilks was on vacation, staying with his friends at the Keoka Beach Campground in Waterford, just north of Bridgton, police said.

Ric Dodge, who serves on the executive board of the United Bikers of Maine, said the incident cast motorcyclists in a bad light.

“It’s tragic, but it wasn’t an accident,” Dodge said. “It’s like somebody standing on the back of a moving pickup. Nobody would ever condone anything like that.”

He said a renowned stuntman and motorcycle designer known as Indian Larry was doing the same trick in North Carolina when he was thrown from his bike and died of head injuries in 2004.

Some people will say the crash shows the need for a motorcycle helmet law in Maine, Dodge conceded, but United Bikers of Maine believes it should be the rider’s choice. He said it’s not clear whether a helmet would have protected any rider from the speed and force of Monday’s crash.

Friends defended Dilks in online comments on pressherald.com, saying he was a kind man who lived life to the fullest, but someone who lived on the edge. Dilks’ family could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

 

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: [email protected]