One dead, one injured in Chilmark moped crash 

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Updated 5 pm

A moped was involved in a crash with a Lexus SUV in Chilmark on South Road near the intersection of Stonewood Lane Saturday afternoon. The crash left a 20-year-old woman dead and a 20-year-old man injured, according to a release from the Chilmark Police Department. The roadway was closed at Alley’s General Store in West Tisbury and at another point in Chilmark while police, firefighters, and ambulance personnel dealt with the scene. Martha’s Vineyard Commissioner Ben Robinson told The Times he witnessed the accident. Robinson said he was driving on South Road, headed down-Island and saw two mopeds approaching a car right in front of his. One moped was close to the centerline, he noted. 

“Both the moped and the car were close to the yellow line and the moped made contact with the car on its left front side and both passengers — the driver and the passenger of the moped — were thrown off. I immediately stopped my car and jumped out. You could tell the moped driver was conscious, moving, and then the other wasn’t. So I rushed to try to aid her.” 

Robinson described the people on the moped as a young man and a woman. He said the woman was thrown “a good distance.”  Both the man and woman appeared badly hurt, Robinson said. Robinson said he saw helmets at the scene, but he couldn’t recall if the people on the moped had been wearing them.  

Robinson said a firefighter or EMT was in nearby traffic and immediately rendered aid and mustered help. Robinson also said someone who he described as a California ER doctor was also in nearby traffic and went to work on the male moped operator. Despite a series of heroic efforts, Robinson said paramedics were unable to revive the woman.

The man was airlifted to a Rhode Island hospital while the woman was taken to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital by ambulance and pronounced dead, according to a release. 

When a Times reporter arrived on the scene, debris remained on the roadway and the moped and Lexus had yet to be removed. Some residents who lived near to the accident scene were allowed past the cordon to get to their homes. After being closed for about two hours, South Road reopened just after 2:30 pm.

The Massachusetts State Police are investigating the accident, according to a release.

43 COMMENTS

  1. Is it time yet? The roads are to narrow. Too many people. No more mopeds. Drivers and riders with no experience driving on these narrow roads. Enough.

  2. This is a tragedy and should not have happened. Mopeds should not be allowed on this island. How many injuries and deaths will it take?

    • This is a tragedy and should not have happened. Cars and trucks should not be allowed on this island. How many injuries and deaths will it take?

  3. How many unwitting, innocent tourists have been injured and/or killed while riding mopeds since they first became allowed on congested Martha’s Vineyard?

    How many, exactly?

    How many does it take before the use of mopeds is 100% BANNED on congested Martha’s Vineyard? Exactly.

    • About the same as Bermuda.

      How many does it take before the use of cars and trucks are 100% BANNED on congested Martha’s Vineyard?

  4. It is not just mopeds. Bicycles are on the road too. Impatient cars, both island and off island plates. I was almost hit head on the orher day on middle road at a bend by a car coming around on my side of the double yellow line ( the car said ambulance). Had I not been going sliw bevause I was not going to to zoom past the cyclist on a blind curve, it would have been bad news for me. Slow the hell down, everyone!

    • I almost had a head-on on Middle Rd a couple of weeks ago. Pickup truck passed a trailer truck on a blind curve. Had I been going a little faster or 20 seconds sooner I may have been killed. The guy had floored it to pass the truck.

    • Is there something about the mopeds that makes then inherently unsafe, or is the real problem caused by inexperienced moped drivers who are driving recklessly? In other words, don’t blame the mopeds if the real problem is caused by the careless operators.

      • Mopeds aren’t “inherently unsafe” in the sense that the Ford Pinto or DeHavilland Comet airliner were: They don’t suffer catastrophic mechanical failures under normal operating conditions. Nor, I suspect, is the root problem “reckless” or “careless” operators.

        A moped, ridden solo by a well-trained operator with proper safety gear under non-extreme conditions, would be a reasonably safe mode of transportation. The immediate problem is that mopeds on the Island are ridden by inexperienced operators, carrying passengers whose shifting weight affects handling, over winding roads with narrow, sandy shoulders. All of that reduces the margin for handling error when something unexpected happens. Heavy traffic, and the unfamiliarity of most moped riders with the roads they’re traveling (which robs them of the ability to “see” what’s ahead), make “something unexpected” very, very likely.

        And, when it happens, bodies meet pavement and physics and the lack of proper protective gear do their terrible work.

        All that is the immediate problem. The deeper problem is that the moped-rental business’s profitability likely depends on customers who don’t have the experience or training to handle the unexpected, don’t have adequate gear, and don’t have anything approaching the requisite knowledge of local conditions. Safety restrictions that would make a real difference would likely shrink the customer pool below the level of profitability long before they had a significant impact on injuries.

        This is a systemic problem . . . and it requires a systemic, legislative solution.

      • Tourists with no experience rent mopeds and maybe or maybe not they are given a 5 minute crash course (no pun intended) on how to ride after which they are set out on our already narrow and congested roads as accidents waiting to happen.

    • Mopeds are an important part of the Island economy.
      They have been for over fifty years.
      Many people come to the Island because they can rent mopeds.
      Should the Island also ban motorcycle and bicycle rentals?
      Car rtentals?

      • Beg to disagree, mopeds came to the state of Massachusetts as a legal means of transport on public roads by the sponsoring of than governor Dukakais. At that time there was no public buses on Martha’s Vineyard which during the summer months will and do transport visitors to most places that a moped would with a better safety record. People do not come to the island because they can rent mopeds, they come to Martha’s Vineyard to possibly capture and bring home with them some of the magic that resides here.

      • No, just moped and scooter rentals. MV will be just fine without the blood money these rental outfits generate.

  5. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to widen the road by about a foot on each side. As a bicyclist, I know that might mean the difference between life and death.
    Perhaps the sentiment has changed since the 90’s ( I think) when the voters of Chilmark refused to allow the state to widen the road in order to maintain the towns’ “rural character”

    Banning mopeds is a no brainer.

  6. I can’t imagine many things more horrific than watching you child loose there life in something that was to be fun.
    Can someone make a QR code that links you to articles of moped deaths on the vineyard?
    Having the renter of a moped be informed, and maybe they would think twice before renting?
    I would post it here in Menemsha and help inform them.
    “Mopeds please read this”

    • Marshall, i was thinking a pamphlet with a QR code to a youtube video with some interviews of the people that have been in crashes over the last few years. ill hand them out at the ferries if need be!

    • There was a poster once at the MVC that indicated the hot spots for accidents on the Vineyard. I would suggest contacting them to get a copy and/or more information.

    • People very horrifically die in car crashes too. No mopeds involved. Have there been any fatalities from a moped ramming into a tree or fence or other thing? The common denominator are cars and other vehicles.

  7. What a terrible terrible terrible accident! Motorcycle licenses should be required for driving a moped at the very least! Should we also be looking to ban the rental of electric powered mopeds that we call “electric bikes” which share so many of the same risks…. but are, contrary to the gasoline powered cousin, are legally allowed to speed along with families on shared use bike paths and allowed on dirt trails across the island where the large tires tear up the trails?

  8. How many of you would be willing to donate to a gofundme campaign if it could be matched and used to buy out the moped businesses. I and a group of people attempted to make things safer and then stop rentals through a home rule petition that died in the state house. Perhaps it’s time to go the route of “money talks.”

    • I am 100% opposed to paying off the greedy people that have no regard for human life to stop renting these death machines! They have made enough blood money already!

    • Nicole thank you so much for your efforts a few years back. the roads here are too narrow, dangerous and crowded for MV to look the other way and allow mopeds on them. Every year someone dies. Guaranteed. And yet the island still lets the two or three businesses continue making money off of young people who think it “looks like fun.” I wish the next article about this could be an investigation into why the majority view on banning mopeds doesn’t seem to prevail.

    • Not a bad idea. We tried all of the ‘traditional’ routes and got yet another death and a young man’s life ruined.

  9. I have been on a Moped on the Vineyard roads many years ago. I had no idea what I was doing! And Mopeds were the way to go back then. Recently, I drove behind two Mopeds, each with a passenger. They were weaving all over the road! They are dangerous fun-vacation “bikes”.

  10. I was with my friend 15years ago, who wasn’t experience , we crashed and took out a pole and a couple of tables in Oak Bluff.. We survived thank God. Sorry to say – Yes do away with them.

  11. This is a tragedy.
    I live on south rd- and agree that mopeds should be banned- but this is about more than mopeds. It’s also about impatience. It’s about overcrowding of rural roads. It’s about cars going way to fast. It’s about distracted drivers. It’s about individuals not remembering that roads are shared use, not private freeways, bikeways, walkways. Unfortunately the island is changing and it’s no longer what it was 20- or even 10 years ago. I’ve watched cars easily passing my house going 60+ (daily this summer) in a spot where another life was lost in the last decade. Everyone needs to slow down!!

    • I have to agree with Kara O’Sullivan’s entry. A couple of years back there was a moped crash right in our driveway entry way off of West Tisbury Rd in Edgartown…. one of the riders died, and the other was in really bad shape. I would be willing to volunteer in some capacity to help ban mopeds from the island, however I was once told that once a business is entrenched on our island, getting rid of “it “ is next to impossible due to the fact that we would be depriving someone of their occupation and income….maybe we could make an exception in the case of mopeds???? Let’s all try!!!

  12. In RI they have the same issue with moped rentals on Block Island a much smaller island so the problem is not just a MV issue I do agree , to many vehicles not enough space but, that was a tragedy 2 young people out trying to enjoy the island may the young woman Rest In Peace .

  13. Every year. Every damn year. If not death a major injury. We’ve tried banning that didn’t work. Buyer beware, but they are not. Here’s an idea, pass a statute that all moped renters must read the history of injury and death of moped riding on MV prior to renting.

  14. I have no data, but most of these accidents seem to involve inexperienced driver + passenger. If we can’t ban mopeds, can we at least require they be driven with only one person aboard?

  15. A few months back I was in Washington DC and rented a push along scooter and a bycicle at different times. I must admit I was not really equipped to ride either one after many years of not doing so. It was a learning experience to be behind, in front of and heading into on coming pedestrian and bycicle traffic.
    I’m guessing that motor scooters are more dangerous in the hands of anyone inexperienced in driveing one for the first time. From my limited experience I would say that it should take at least 2 – 3 days of actual training to get a real grip on how to maneuver them.

    I am an advocate for creating more bycicle paths on the island. Also limiting the amount of motor vehicles of any sort. There is a moment when sustainability needs to be recognized and adhered too.

  16. Never ever beg so called authority to pass more laws that YOU feel are necessary because tomorrow your neighbor will be advocating for something you enjoy to made illegal.
    We’re supposed to be a country that embraces DANGEROUS FREEDOM and certainly not peaceful slavery/tyranny.

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