Weekend incidents highlight Baltimore's struggle to corral dirt bikers
By Jesse Coburn
The Baltimore Sun|
Jun 13, 2016 at 7:08 PM
Wesley Ford heard their engines before he saw them: a pack of dirt bikers tearing down East Pratt Street at the Inner Harbor on Friday night, heading directly for Ford and his friend.
The light was red, but the riders were traveling upward of 60 miles an hour, Ford said, and showed no signs of slowing down.
"I was extremely panicked," said Ford, 17, who remembered freezing in the middle of the crosswalk and covering his head as the pack raced through the red light.
He came out unscathed, but his friend was not so lucky. She remained in the hospital Monday, where she is being treated for injuries suffered when one of the dirt bike riders ran into her before speeding off.
In another incident Friday, a driver was assaulted after colliding with a dirt biker in Southwest Baltimore, according to police.
The pair of incidents highlight the city's continuing struggle to corral dirt bikers, who regularly ride through the city in large packs, popping wheelies and flouting traffic laws. Dirt bikes are banned on city streets.
City Council members voiced frustration Monday about the weekend incidents, as more details became available.
"The dirt bike issue is getting out of hand," City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young said.
The woman, an 18-year-old high school senior from Northern Virginia, suffered a skull fracture and a traumatic brain injury, according to her mother, Yvette Coffman.
Her daughter and Ford, who attend high school together and expect to graduate this month, were in Baltimore to attend the Beyonce concert at M&T Bank Stadium.
Police spokesman Jeremy Silbert said Monday that officers are still trying to identify the rider.
Hours after the Inner Harbor accident, police responded to the 1500 block of S. Monroe St. in the Carroll-Camden Industrial Area, where they found the injured driver and the dirt biker from the second incident. The biker's leg was broken, police said.
Both were hospitalized, according to a police statement. Police have not named the dirt biker, who will face traffic charges.
Police said the dirt biker's companion, who has not been identified, assaulted the driver.
Police have a "no-pursue policy" when it comes to the riders, according to Detective Nicole Monroe, a police spokeswoman. "It's just not worth it," Monroe said, citing the potential threat a police chase could pose to pedestrians and property.