MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The MLK Day madness on the roads of South Florida, which has become an annual tradition in years past, cost a 20-year old man his life and seriously injured another.
The unruliness on the roads began mid-afternoon when hundreds of people on motorcycles, dirt bikes and ATVs took to the streets in what’s been termed “Wheels Up, Guns Down.” They made their way up I-95 through Miami, and west into Opa Locka and down into Liberty City, popping wheelies, weaving in and out of passing cars and blocking traffic.
Around 7 p.m., Javis Charles, who was on a dirt bike, collided with a Toyota Camry at NW 6th Avenue and 54th Street when it attempted to make a left turn. Charles, 25, was taken to Ryder Trauma Center in full cardiac arrest. He died at the hospital.
The day after her son was run over and killed on a borrowed dirt bike, Javis Charles’ mother grieved his loss and said she warned him over and over against riding the motorized bikes.
“A friend let him use it, and this is what happened,” said Charles’ mother, Carolyn Potter. “He was always asking me to buy him one and I kept telling no, that dirt bikes kill.”
The dirt bike Charles was riding was not street legal.
“The dirt bike did not have the proper equipment. Its lights were not on. The other driver of the vehicle did not see the dirt bike,” said Miami Police Officer Chris Bess.
Earlier in the day, another motorcyclist was hit near the Palmetto Expressway and NW 27th Avenue in Miami Gardens. As he lay on the ground, other bikers gathered around, but none helped. They scattered when the police arrived. The injured man was air rescued to Ryder Trauma Center with serious injuries.
On Sunday, a 20-year-old was killed while illegally riding his ATV with a pack on the Palmetto Expressway. It’s believed he traveled from Orlando to participate in the holiday event.
This year law enforcement promised a tougher crackdown. Motorcyclists caught weaving in and out of traffic or popping wheelies were given a citation for reckless driving.
At Molina Towing Company a trio of brothers were recovering a dirt bike, towed by police after its rider was nabbed and fined.
The traffic violations and towing charges for Christopher Small’s ride will total nearly $600, he said. Will it deter him and his cousins from joining in next year’s MLK Day mass motorized event?
“No, it’s bike life, man,” Smalls said. “It’s bike life, man. We always ride.”
Late Monday night, the Broward Sheriff’s Office announced that the joint MLK enforcement operation, conducted by law enforcement agencies in Miami-Dade and Broward, had made 36 arrests and confiscated 74 vehicles along with three firearms.
Police hope to put an end to the motorcycle madness in the years to come.