Greenwich Time

Report: Motorcycli­st going 99 mph before fatal crash

- By Christine Dempsey

GLASTONBUR­Y — Amber Sehrt was driving toward Hebron Avenue one September Sunday when she saw a motorcycle speed down the street and through a roundabout. She told her 14year-old daughter, “Oh my God, he is going to hurt somebody.”

Moments later, the motorcycli­st slammed into the passenger side of an SUV that was starting to turn left from Hebron Avenue onto a highway ramp, according to the police report obtained by Hearst Connecticu­t Media Group. The crash killed the motorcycli­st and Andra Spencer, 15, of Colchester, who was a passenger in the SUV.

Gordon “Mac” Southby, 18, of Glastonbur­y, who police say had a history of recklessly riding motorcycle­s and dirt bikes around town, was traveling close to 100 mph seconds before the impact, investigat­ors said in the report. Police also said he had alcohol and THC in his system.

If Southby survived, he would have been charged with negligent homicide with a motor vehicle, driving while under the influence, reckless driving, possession of alcohol by a minor and failure to display a marker, the report


John O'Brien, the lawyer for Southby's mother, H. Veronica Southby, said the family disagrees with parts of the accident report and plans to hire its own experts to reconstruc­t the crash and review toxicology reports.

“We need to retain an accident reconstruc­tion expert as well as a toxicologi­st regarding the claim that Mac was intoxicate­d, or that his consumptio­n of alcohol in any way contribute­d to this collision,” O'Brien said in an interview with Hearst Connecticu­t Media.

According to the accident report, police were flooded with 911 calls about the crash around 6:50 p.m. Sept. 25. The first responders encountere­d a horrible scene: A 2016 GMC Acadia with a hole in its side was partially up a ramp to Route 2 East. A wrecked motorcycle, a 2013 Yamaha YZF-R6, was in a grassy area on the side of the road.

The motorcycli­st had hit the passenger side of the SUV with such force, he penetrated it and ended up in the vehicle's third row, with the passengers­ide door frame “bent around his body,” Officer Patrick W. Hemingway wrote in a supplement­ary report.

The rider had extreme trauma to his legs, hips, chest and head, and Hemingway couldn't find a pulse. Police and firefighte­rs pulled him out of the vehicle and performed CPR. He was taken to Hartford Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Officers recognized him as Southby, who they had charged with reckless driving in the past.

The teenager in the second row of the SUV suffered severe trauma to the right side of her head, according to the report.

Officer Neal P. Cavanaugh detected a faint pulse on the girl, he wrote in his report. With help from firefighte­rs and medics, he pulled her from the Acadia. They started CPR and she was taken to Connecticu­t Children's, where she was placed on life support. She later was removed from life support and died.

The woman in the driver's seat was dazed, but didn't appear to have serious physical injuries, and the front-seat passenger complained of head pain, police said in the report. Both were taken to Hartford Hospital.

Investigat­ors said several people saw the motorcycle speeding up and down Hebron Avenue before the deadly crash, the report stated.

According to the report, a resident looked out his window and saw a motorcycle traveling “at least 50 mph” on Hebron Avenue about 6:40 p.m. The westbound motorcycle then shifted through “three or four” gears to reach what the man — who also rides motorcycle­s — estimated to be 90 to 100 mph, the report stated.

A short time later, a couple pulled out of a Hebron Avenue restaurant and saw a blue motorcycle “zigzagging” back and forth behind them and tailgating, according to the report.

The woman told police the rider was “very impatient while he was driving behind us,” the report said.

The motorcycle was now eastbound, and the rider “flew by our vehicle on the driver's side,” she said, passing them in a lane for oncoming traffic, the report said.

‘Looked like a missile hit it’

Sehrt said she also saw the motorcycle speed by when she was driving her teenager to a sporting event. She was heading south on House Street, toward the intersecti­on with Hebron Avenue, which has been converted into a roundabout. Roundabout­s are proven to be safer because they force cars to slow down and drive around the circle to get to their destinatio­n, but Southby managed to speed around the circle in as straight a line as possible and continue east on Hebron, the report stated.

“The motorcycle literally blew through,” Sehrt said, according to the report.

She, too, was headed east on Hebron Avenue, and once she drove over a crest in the road, she came upon the scene seconds after the crash.

“I could still see smoke billowing out of her car,” she said in an interview with Hearst Connecticu­t Media. “The car looked like a missile hit it.”

She had her daughter call 911 and rushed to the driver, who cried out, “'My baby, my baby!' ” Sehrt said. Sehrt, who photograph­s newborns, expected to find an infant, but instead found Spencer in the SUV's second row.

“Her head was really hanging at a very uncomforta­ble position, so I climbed in the car,” Sehrt said. “I lifted her head slightly.”

While helping the unconsciou­s girl, Sehrt tried to comfort her concerned family members in the front seats. She told the mother and passenger, who she said seemed to be in his teens, that Spencer was sleeping. She said she never noticed Southby, who was inches from her in the third row.

Police: Motorcycli­st was going 99.3 mph

In addition to the eyewitness accounts that the motorcycle had been speeding before the crash, police had video.

They obtained surveillan­ce footage showing the bike passing a restaurant and another building minutes before the crash and did a frame-by-frame analysis to calculate its approximat­e speed. They determined it was traveling between 66 and 70 mph when it was in the 100block of Hebron Avenue, where the speed limit is 30 mph, the report said.

The second video showed the motorcycle was traveling between 76 and 82 mph when it reached the intersecti­ons of Linden and Sycamore streets to the east, according to the report.

 ?? Spencer family/contribute­d ?? Andra Spencer
Spencer family/contribute­d Andra Spencer

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