Saw something really wild this a.m. - still shaking and trying to process it. I think I saw a motorcyclist die, and I’m turning over in my mind what happened.
I was driving N on the Dan Ryan in Chicago around 7 a.m., S of 79th. There was some construction, and the left lane was going to close ahead. I was in the 2d to the L lane. I was driving with the flow of traffic - probably 65-70. It had spit rain on-off, but pavement was pretty much dry, visibility perfectly clear. Traffic VERY light for the Dan Ryan - which means there were a several car lengths between vehicles. Plenty of room to maneuver if you wanted, but most people were just barreling along in their lanes at or slightly above the speed limit.
There was no one ahead of me in the L lane, so I could see a long way ahead where the L lane closed. There were a couple of orange barrels on either side of what I assume was a construction truck. The bottom 3 feet or so was yellow and black zebra-stripe, and the top few feet was a big sign with a blinking arrow to the R in yellow lights. The truck/barrier pretty much took up the entire lane. And from my lane I could see the solid line f orange barrels stretching on after the barrier. Can’t recall exactly what was ahead of the barrier in terms of signage and/or barrels, but the image I’m trying to covey is that it was as obvious as fucking day that that lane ceased to exist at that spot.
I looked in my rear mirror, and saw a black sedan coming up behind me in the L lane. Thought it was kinda a dick move for him to pass me as the barrier was getting closer, but he was going fast enough that I just stayed in my lane at my speed, and he cut in just a little closer than I would have though optimal. Not worth a second thought.
Then I noticed the motorcycle behind him. It was also coming up on my left, just slightly faster than me. Not crazy fast - I’d assume maybe 80. And the barrier was getting really close. I assumed he would either duck in behind me, or really jump on it and swerve in ahead of me. I took my foot off the gas, but by then we had reached the barrier.
The motorcycle drove straight into it. No swerve, no sign of braking, no head movement. Just drove head on into this freakin wall at full highway speed. He was just slightly ahead of me at impact - I’m pretty sure I was looking at him out my driver’s side window, rather than the windshield. It was a big light colored bike, with a fairing. The guy was wearing a white rain suit, a white helmet, and a safety yellow vest.
The truck/barrier/whatever it was didn’t give an inch. The bike completely folded up - collapsed into the wall. The image that came to my mind was wet cardboard splatting on the pavement. Not as tho it were made of metal at all. I sensed bits of the bike breaking off to the right and left, and a sense of the rider going up into the air and flying up and over the bike to his right.
And then I was past. Called 911, they patched me to the state police. They asked if the biker were hurt, I said I thought he was dead. They said they would send someone, and shortly thereafter I saw a car w/ lights speeding S.
So what I keep asking myself is WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED? How the heck could this guy have not seen this barrier? It was literally as big as a wall across the entire lane, and was blinking black and yellow. There were no reasons the traffic or conditions would have prevented him from either going ahead or behind me. And if he were trying to kill himself, why would he put on his helmet and safety vest in order to do so?
Absolutely crazy shit, man!