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Two separate motorcycle accidents took the lives of two young Marines in an 11-day period causing a concern over motorcycle safety. Private First Class Franklin P. Stairs, a 19-year-old Marine assigned to 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment was fatally injured in a motorcycle accident on May 31. Eleven days later, Lance Cpl. Anthony Martinez, 21, of Fullerton, Calif., a Marine assigned to 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment was killed in a crash while riding his motorcycle.

Photo by Cpl. Heidi E. Loredo

Two deaths in 11 days prompt safety concern

24 Jun 2005 | Cpl. Heidi E. Loredo

It was 9:50 p.m. on June 11 when his motorcycle slammed into the pickup truck and projected him through the air. 

Lance Cpl. Anthony Martinez, 21, of Fullerton, Calif., did not survive the tragic accident that took place on Twentynine Palms Highway.

Martinez, a Marine assigned to 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, was riding a 2005 Yamaha motorcycle eastbound when the driver of a pickup truck made a left turn in front of his motorcycle according to the San Bernardino County coroner's office.  He struck the pickup and was ejected.

Martinez was transported to Hi-Desert Medical Center and was pronounced dead at 10:22 p.m.

The accident comes in the wake of another fatal motorcycle accident.  Both accidents took place in the course of 11 days.

Private First Class Franklin P. Stairs of 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, was fatally injured on May 31 while driving at a high rate of speed westbound on Twentynine Palms Highway on his Honda motorcycle when a vehicle turned onto the highway directly into Stairs' path causing a collision.

Authorities said citizens and emergency workers tried to save the 19-year-old Marine as he lay on the highway, however his injuries were too extreme for CPR.

Stairs joined the Marine Corps on March 26, 2004.  He arrived at the Combat Center on Feb. 25.
The National Highway Safety Administration states that more than two-thirds of fatal motorcycle crashes involve a motorcycle and another vehicle.

The motorist either does not see the oncoming motorcycle at all or does not see the motorcycle in time to avoid a crash.

The Naval Safety Center states that seven Marines were killed in fiscal year 2004 on motorcycles.  As of June 15, 10 Marines have been killed because of motorcycle crashes.   

Marine Corps Order 5100.19E, Marine Corps Traffic Safety Program, requires completion of a motorcycle rider's safety course prior to operating a motorcycle on any Marine Corps installation.

For Marines, the course is required to operate a motorcycle on base or off base. The course is designed to prevent motorcycle mishaps and is offered at no charge.

"They can go one of two ways," said William G. Huie, safety manager.  "If they don't know how to ride a motorcycle they attend the Basic Rider Course and the instructor will teach them how to ride. It also fulfills the riding portion of the California motorcycle rider-training course.  If the rider already has a license and they need a decal they have to take the Experienced Rider's Course."

The beginner's course is two full days and the motorcycle is furnished.   In the experienced course, riders bring their own motorcycle and spend five hours doing exercises to refresh their memory and teach new riding skills.

The Provost Marshal's Office will not issue a motorcycle pass to riders unless they have successfully completed a motorcycle safety course.


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