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2 Are Hurt in Bizarre Motorcycle Collision

A Costa Mesa officer and another rider are knocked onto other bikes, police say.

June 02, 2004|David Haldane | Times Staff Writer

In an accident reminiscent of an action-movie sequence, a Costa Mesa police officer and another man were injured Monday when their motorcycles collided, causing a game of "musical cycle seats" on the San Diego Freeway, authorities said.

"This is definitely one of the most unique accidents I've ever seen," Lt. John FitzPatrick, a spokesman for the Costa Mesa Police Department, said of the 10 p.m. collision that knocked Officer Dennis Dickens, 39, off his seat and Javier Gasga, 33, onto it for a quarter of a mile.

"It was like a Hollywood stunt," FitzPatrick said.

Both men were taken to Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo and were reported in serious condition.

According to FitzPatrick, the accident occurred in the southbound carpool lane just north of Jamboree Road, where Dickens and fellow motorcycle officer Tony Yannizzi were traveling about 65 mph as they rode home from work side by side. A third cycle driven by Gasga and traveling more than 100 mph, FitzPatrick said, roared up behind the officers and struck Dickens' bike in the rear.

The impact, FitzPatrick said, threw Dickens off his motorcycle and onto Yannizzi's, where he was able to hang on for about five seconds before losing his grip and somersaulting along the asphalt for more than 40 yards. At the same time, FitzPatrick said, Gasga -- who police believe had been drinking -- was thrown from his bike onto Dickens', which continued for about a quarter-mile before crashing onto the pavement.

"He was just kind of spread-eagled on top of it," FitzPatrick said.

Eventually Yannizzi, who was not injured, was able to stop and pull the two men out of the path of oncoming traffic. Dickens suffered a cracked pelvis and multiple abrasions requiring surgery, while Gasga sustained a collapsed lung.

Gasga was arrested by the California Highway Patrol on suspicion of felony driving under the influence, FitzPatrick said.

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