Abilene family pushing for helmet laws after personal tragedy

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ABILENE, Texas (KRBC) An Abilene family is pushing for a Texas House Bill that will require motorcyclists in Texas to wear a helmet when riding, at all times.

The bill is House Bill No. 748. It was filed in January of this year, by Texas Representative Victoria Neave.

Jamie Angiel lost her father in a motorcycle accident in August 2018, in the Dallas area.

Angiel told KRBC’s Pheben Kassahun he was not wearing a helmet and died due to head injuries.

To make sure no other family has to go through the same grieving process she and her family is going through, Angiel is determined to have her voice heard and to get HB748 passed.

We have to realize that life happens, and we have to go on, Angiel said. 

The news about their father is still fresh on the minds of Jamie Angiel and her siblings, Keeli and Aaron.

On August 13th of 2018, he was riding a motorcycle, and he was not wearing a helmet, Angiel said. 

Hours later, his children received the life-wrenching phone call.

You’re just wondering, No. What hospital is he in? Where is he at? What’s going on? Nobody had answers except for he had passed and that he was in a motorcycle accident, and he had not been wearing a helmet, Angiel explained.

Their father, Joe, missed Jamie’s wedding by just two months.

Aaron, living with my dad and not having him come home that night. My sister having a 9-month old not ever getting to grow up, knowing his grandfather and me. I was getting married in two months, after the accident and not being able to share that moment with my father in a father-daughter dance, Angiel explained.

The Abilene-native still digging for answers involving her father’s accident.

I found a post. It said, I saw this man, he looked like he was having a great ride and then all of a sudden, I noticed the motorcycle on the ground, she said.

It was Cannon Brown who was just leaving an event in Dallas.

I was just kind of stuck behind somebody that was going kind of slow, and he[Joe] was able to keep going the highway speed. He looked like he was having a good time, Brown explained through a Skype interview.

Brown recalled it was a beautiful day, perfect for riding suddenly turning south.

A few minutes later, the traffic all starts. I see all of the brake lights to start coming on, Brown said. I happened to glance over the right shoulder. I noticed the motorcycle laying on the ground. It took a moment but it looks like the motorcycle I saw go past me just a few minutes ago, Brown continued to say. And that took another minute to register, that you know, okay there’s nobody with that motorcycle.

Brown recalled other drivers in the area helped him secure the area until paramedics arrived to the scene. He said it reminded him that there was still good humanity.

Brown is now among those pushing to get a bill passed to require motorcyclists to wear helmets, in the state of Texas.

I reached out to Representative Neave, and I know we don’t have a universal helmet law here in Texas. Can we get that reinstated? Because Joe would have at least had a chance that night, if he had had a helmet on, he explained.

We are pushing for that law to become Joe’s Law. Our father’s name was Joe, Angiel explained.

However, not everyone is on board with House Bill 748.

The hugely negative side to us about HB 748 is the profiling side of it, motorcyclist Gyp C Serna explained.

She recalls a moment when a profiling incident happened. 

Approximately 18 pulled over as a group. Never any citation issued but yet, they were searched, physically searched and their pictures were taken, even though they stated, Why are we being pulled over? They weren’t given that information, Serna said.

The San Angelo resident has been an avid rider of more than 30 years. She is a part of the Texas Region 5 Confederation of Clubs and Independents. The organization brings motorcyclists in the West Texas region together, so that riders are aware of what road issues to lookout for on Texas highways, being educated on the rider rights, etc.

I wear my helmet. Those of us that are already licensed, we already have our M endorsement, that means we’ve already been educated, Serna said. 

She explains if the bill passes, it will also not assure motorcycle safety.

It’s not going to  help decrease the number of fatalities, nor is it going to decrease the number of accident injuries. Wearing a helmet doesn’t protect the rest of your body, Serna said. “This is about, we want to allow the right of Texans to choose and taking away that right isn’t going to help motorcycle accidents, motorcycle fatalities. It’s not going to change it, unfortunately.”

Serna explains motorists should get educated too.

Every year, we get these signs that say ‘Look twice for motorcyclists’ or ‘Take a second look, Serna said.

The next step for the bill right now is to get a committee hearing in the Texas House Transportation Committee. If passed, the act will take effect on September 1. 

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