To the editor:
On May 2, 13 years ago, Nelson Selig of Essex was killed while riding his motorcycle on Route 133 in Ipswich, when a 19-year-old drifted into Nelson’s lane, hitting his motorcycle head-on.
We offer our condolences to his family and friends, and thank them for allowing us to use their tragedy to help other families of riders through Nelson’s Ride and other Survivor’s Fund events.
Nelson’s tragic death 14 years ago also spurred a grass-roots movement of motorcycle awareness within the local riding community that we believe has saved lives and reduced accidents.
Nelly’s Bill was enacted four years later and put a motorcycle awareness module into the auto driver’s training course curriculum. Statistics from 1998-2000 showed 28 percent of motorcycle fatalities in Massachusetts occurred before May, so another bill was passed proclaiming the last week of March through the end of April as the commonwealth’s Motorcycle Awareness Period. The state’s motorcycle awareness program was pulled from the Governor’s Highway Safety Bureau and transferred to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, which adopted “Check Twice, Save a Life, Motorcycles Are Everywhere” as the state’s awareness motto.
An audit of the state’s motorcycle safety fund revealed more than $400,000 in unspent funds, and $300,000 was reallotted. While most of the country saw increased deaths with increased motorcycle registrations, motorcycle fatalities in Massachusetts remained level or lessened.
Nelson left behind a mom and longtime stepdad, two sisters, a wife and two young children. He was a local clam digger who wanted more for his kids. Friends and local riders rallied and put together Nelson’s Ride in August 2000 to raise money for his kids’ educational fund. A second and a third ride were done in 2001 and 2002. After the third ride, his family thanked the riding community, then did an unselfish act, asking that the ride continue in Nelson’s memory, but funds raised go to other local families of riders killed or seriously injured in motorcycle accidents. That has been happening since 2004.
In 2007, a Survivors Fund was started in southeastern Massachusetts. And in 2008, a Blackstone Valley Survivors Fund was started that in 2010 changed to the Worcester County Survivors Fund.
Today, we remember what took Nelly from his family 13 years ago and remember what has come because of his death. We thank his family, friends and the riding community for all they have contributed in helping other families.
Rest in peace, Nelson.
Paul W. Cote
Paul Cote is president of the Massachusetts Motorcyclists’ Survivors Fund.