State troopers say
the motorcyclist hit the breaks, causing the bike to fishtail and spin out of control. This caused the rider, 55-year old Philip A. Contos of Parish, NY, to flip over the handlebars, hitting his head.
Contos was pronounced dead in hospital. Police say Contos would probably still be alive if he had been wearing a helmet.
His older brother, Richard, spoke to the Post-Standard
about his sibling:
"He’s a rebel. That’s what he felt like doing. He protested everything."
If his brother were still alive, Richard said he would have done the protest ride all over again, saying "he would have wanted it that way."
The ride was part of the 11th annual Helmet Protest Run, which is put on by the Onondaga County chapter of American Bikers Aimed Towards Education (ABATE). The group, whose main aim is to support the training and education of bikers, is working to lobby state and national transportation officials to invest more funds into motorcyclist training, and less into bike-specific roadblocks.
The group also believes that the government has no right to make helmets mandatory, saying that it should be up to the individual cyclist to make that decision.
The death of Contos will not change that viewpoint:
“It’s not going to stop us protesting our right to wear a helmet or not wear a helmet," said Christinea Rathbun, the president of Syracuse's ABATE chapter to the Post-Standard. "It’s your own risk.”