Teen dies in dirt bike crash

Cody Kelpin died in a Vancouver hospital after losing control on his dirt bike on Monday afternoon. The 18-year-old was ripping down 12th Avenue in Porter Creek "popping wheelies" and had attempted to pass a vehicle on the passenger side just before he crashed, according to an RCMP release.

Cody Kelpin died in a Vancouver hospital after losing control on his dirt bike on Monday afternoon.

The 18-year-old was ripping down 12th Avenue in Porter Creek “popping wheelies” and had attempted to pass a vehicle on the passenger side just before he crashed, according to an RCMP release.

Dan Dunn was inside sleeping when he heard the sound of metal grating along concrete.

“It sounded like someone had dropped a plough blade on the pavement,” said the Porter Creek resident, who lives in a duplex on the corner of 12th and Fir Street.

When he walked outside, Dunn saw a dirt bike lying neatly in his driveway.

It was basically unharmed.

Then, he saw Kelpin’s crumpled body.

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Dunn’s landlord Joe Wall and his buddy Steve Macek were already in the driveway.

They’d been working on Wall’s car when they heard brakes screaming.

“I looked up and saw this bike coming toward me,” said Macek.

Then he saw Kelpin, separated from the bike and flying through the air toward the concrete pillars surrounding the fire hydrant on the corner.

“He must have been going 60 miles an hour when he hit them,” said Macek.

Kelpin’s back hit the first post and his head and neck hit the second.

That’s when his helmet popped off.

“It sounded like a cannon when it hit the fence,” said Macek.

Kelpin kept skidding, landing in a heap in front of the two men, roughly 80 metres from where he lost control of the bike.

“He was thrown so far,” said Dunn.

While they waited for the ambulance, Dunn’s wife Jennifer and a neighbour started CPR.

“He was really bad,” said Jennifer, tears in her eyes.

“I’ve never seen anyone like that before in my whole life.”

A crowd of bystanders had gathered around the accident scene.

That stretch of road sees its share of dirt bike and ATV traffic.

And most of it is moving fast.

“They go at breakneck speeds,” said Dan.

“I’ve seen dirt bikes going up to 100 kilometres an hour.”

Kelpin had a helmet on, but many of the kids don’t, he added.

Dan has been living in that house for almost nine years and he’s seen vehicles lose control on this stretch of road more than once.

“I’m surprised it’s not a weekly occurrence,” he said.

“It’s like a racetrack to a lot of people.”

Dan has four kids between the ages of two and 12.

They like to ride their bikes in front of the house, but Dan rarely lets them.

“It’s too dangerous,” he said.

He’s even seen dirt bikes screaming down the sidewalk.

“The police need to have more of a presence here,” he said.

Teenagers driving quads and dirt bikes aren’t the only problem, added Dan.

Cars and trucks average between 60 and 70 kilometres an hour in front of his house, even though the speed limit is only 50.

“So before we go complaining about the kids ripping up and down the street, the adults need to set a better example,” he said.

“The adults need to slow down too.”

Although Dan is frequently annoyed by the traffic roaring up and down his street, it was the last thing on his mind as he stood beside Kelpin’s immobile body.

“When you have a young kid lying in your driveway, you realize people’s lives are much more important than peace and quiet,” he said.

There were four teenage boys in the group of bystanders.

They were silent.

“I told those kids, ‘Hey dudes, tell your buddies to slow down,’” said Macek.

“We’ve all done stupid stuff in our younger days,” he added.

Kelpin worked for Norcope and was a student at Porter Creek Secondary School.

“He was such a good-natured kid,” said principal Brendan Kelly, breaking down.

The school has counsellors on site “for people who need help and support,” he said.

“We are thinking good thoughts and saying prayers.”

This isn’t the first time Kelpin’s wiped out on his dirt bike.

In September, 2010, he had been tearing down a Porter Creek trail when he hit a new, unmarked barricade that blended in with the dirt.

When he finally saw it, Kelpin hit the brakes and braced himself.

The front tire hit the wood so hard it gouged a rut in the beam and broke the concrete supports at either end.

As the front forks separated from the bike, Kelpin felt his feet catch the handlebars, and he flipped mid air before sailing a good 20 feet, landing in the dirt.

Neighbours heard the bike roar by, then they heard screaming.

The city had put up the barricades several weeks earlier to deter dirt bikers and ATVers from using the trails, which are posted with signs notifying users that motorized vehicles are prohibited. It’s a protected area.

Last year’s accident wasn’t as serious. When the ambulance arrived, Kelpin was on his feet walking around.

“He’s made out of rocks,” Kelpin’s mom, Madonna Joncas, said at the time.

He’s had experience crashing before and knew he was taking risks, said Dan, who’d read about Kelpin’s last crash.

“If you look at his Facebook page it is all about dirt bikes,” he said.

“That was his passion.

“But my heart breaks to think he might pay for it with his life.”

Macek couldn’t sleep after Monday’s accident.

And Wall “overkilled on beer, to make it go away.”

“I kept thinking, how can someone survive something like that?” said Macek.

“He’s such a young man – the risks he was taking just weren’t worth it,” said Jennifer.

Kelpin was a teenager who was “misbehaving a bit and breaking the law – but no one deserves to die for breaking traffic laws,” said Dan.

“No one should be passing judgement on this young man, because no one knows the whole story, except God. And Cody.”

Police are requesting anyone who may have witnessed an orange dirt-bike-style motorcycle operating in the Porter Creek area to call Whitehorse RCMP at (867) 667-5555. Police are also interested in talking to the driver of the vehicle that the bike was attempting to pass.

“We are confident that this driver was not involved in any collision with the bike and may not have been aware of the bike attempting to pass, but we are hoping that person may recognize the incident and come forward to speak with police,” said Sgt. Don Rogers in a release.

Contact Genesee Keevil at

gkeevil@yukon-news.com

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