The motorcyclist who struck and killed a James Madison University student last weekend in Harrisonburg was traveling “grossly greater” than the speed limit, police said Thursday.
Sgt. Wayne Westfall of the Harrisonburg Police Department said investigators obtained video from several businesses in the area showing the crash.
“It’s going so fast I can’t even hit the start-stop button fast enough,” said Westfall, who declined to speculate on how fast the motorcycle was traveling. “I don’t want to say until we actually do the math.”
The investigation into the crash began at about 12:20 a.m. Saturday when emergency crews responded to the intersection of South Main Street and South Avenue.
Police say Jeremy Baugher, 28, of Dayton, was driving a 2020 Yamaha north on South Main Street when he struck JMU freshman Maylea Beasley, 18, of Virginia Beach, as she attempted to cross the road.
Beasley was attempting to cross from the Walgreens side of the street toward South Avenue, police say.
Both died at the scene.
Westfall said the video allowed investigators to see exactly what happened, which cleared up discrepancies in witness statements.
He said witnesses were likely dazed by watching the crash unfold.
“We got a lot of different statements of what happened … just from the sheer, horrific trauma of seeing that happen,” he said.
He said Beasley was in a group of four people attempting to cross the road at the intersection. He said they looked for traffic, didn’t see any vehicles and two of them attempted to cross the road even though the “don’t walk” sign was likely lit.
Westfall said the motorcycle had a green light, according to the videos.
However, he said, a vehicle driving in excessive speed forfeits its right of way.
In the coming weeks, he said, investigators will try to determine how fast Baugher was traveling. He said toxicology reports for Baugher and Beasley will likely take months to get.
Westfall said he’s working with the JMU administration to launch a pedestrian safety campaign when students return for the spring semester.
“We’re going to work together as a team to push home pedestrian safety,” he said.
JMU and city leaders have worked on plans in the past to reduce crashes involving pedestrians, including constructing a tunnel on South Main Street near the Forbes Center, installing fencing in medians and installing gates on campus to restrict traffic during times with heavy foot traffic.