Music teacher killed in Ottawa Co. bike crash

6:30 PM, May 6, 2013   |    comments
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Jeffery Looman

WRIGHT TWP., Mich. (WZZM) -- A beloved Grandville music teacher was hit and killed by a car while riding his bicycle in Ottawa County over the weekend.

WZZM 13 is taking a closer look at whether there were enough signs for cars and bikers at the intersection of 24th Avenue and Musketawa Trail near Marne, where the accident happened.

There are stop signs for bicyclists on each side of the road, but investigators say often times they're overlooked.

"I always stop, I slow all the way down, I don't run through them," says bicyclist Bob Dykstra.

Dykstra sees fellow bikers blowing the stop signs all the time. "They'll fly right through, they'll look both ways and go, but if the sun's in your eyes or you miss it, the car could be right on top of you."

Sunday afternoon, investigators say 55-year-old Jeffrey Looman slowed down on his bike, but never stopped as a car was approaching.

"He (the car's driver) did apply breaks but could not stop in time and hit the bicyclist," says Sergeant Steve Austin with the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department.

Jim Newatzke was driving by when he saw Looman in a nearby ditch. "There wasn't much to do, I was a medic in the service, and he took a pretty good shot."

Looman, a music teacher at Calvin Christian Schools was pronounced dead on the scene.

"This isn't a loss we just recover from, Jeff has left a legacy here... he's been here since 1989 and built our music program," says Barb Engbers, Principal at Calvin Christian High School.

WZZM 13 asked the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department if it's too dangerous to have a bike trail close to where cars travel 55 miles per hour.

"I don't think it is, if it's done safely, properly, and legally. The trail bends, it curves, you have to slow down, and there's a clear red stop sign," says Sergeant Austin.

Deputies hope it sends a sobering reminder to other bikers. "To me it's important, I don't need to get there that fast," says Dykstra.

Investigators say there was another bicyclist hit and killed by a car in the same area in 2008. They say that person also had not stopped at the stop sign.

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