By Darrell Todd Maurina
Members of the motorcycle club to which Timothy “Patch” Lasiter and Johnnie “Dutch” Vankleeck belonged said they couldn’t believe the two were killed in an early Sunday morning crash.
Both belonged to different chapters of the “Brotherhood of 74” motorcycle club, named for a type of Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Lasiter was president of the Clovis chapter of the group; Vankleeck was a member of the Lovington chapter.
“Rhino” Sherman of Lovington, also a member of the Lovington chapter, said he’d known both men for about a decade and wanted to emphasize that his motorcycle club tries to promote good motorcycle riding practices as well as community involvement.
“We’re a family-oriented organization,” Sherman said. “We try to do a lot of good things for the community, everything from helping clean up roadsides to our chapter in Lovington participating in the ‘dress a living doll’ program in Lovington. We basically are raising money to help provide Christmas for underprivileged children.”
“Both the guys you’re talking about were very strong family men. We’re sort of private in our ways, we’re a very close-knit group,” Sherman said. “They were very much motorcycle enthusiasts and both of them have thousands and thousands of miles of motorcycle experience. Both are fantastic riders and this had nothing to do with riding ability, no one could have escaped this accident.”
According to police reports, the crash happened when both cyclists were northbound on Norris Street in the inside lane, behind a tow truck pulling a semi in the outside lane. The truck turned left onto Fairgrounds Road and the two cyclists hit the truck, leaving skid marks of 112 feet and 96 feet before the impact. No citations have been issued.
Dan Broyles of Clovis, a New Mexico and West Texas representative for the American Motorcycle Association, said he had also known both cyclists for years.
“I know how Tim rides, Tim is careful,” Broyles said. “He’s like me — he lost an eye when he was a kid, and he always wore a patch on his right eye. Believe me, when you’ve only got one eye, you’re very aware of what’s around you when you’ve got a motorcycle.”
Police reports said neither cyclist was wearing a helmet, but Broyles said it wouldn’t have made a difference.
“Sometimes in town with minor accidents, if your head hits the ground it may keep you from fracturing your skull,” Broyles said. “In this type of accident, I get real upset when people start saying ‘pass the helmet law.’ Even the full-face helmets you see guys wearing, it wouldn’t have saved their life because the impact was too severe.”
Broyles said club members are planning a memorial for the two and will place two steel crosses near the scene of the crash.