Daytona Bike Week revs up excitement; 1 fatality ahead of 10-day rally

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Sexy gal on Bike Week eve in Daytona Beach, FL / videos and photos by Multimedia Editor Sera Frederick / Ed Schmidt of Pittsburgh describes his "Big Dog Chopper on Main Street in Daytona Beach while the bikes rumble through with the distinct sound of Harley the dominant brand. In the photo, a young gal dares to walk the walk where being seen is what it's all about. The tourism and government officials aren't complaining -- not with half a million bikers expected to generate a cool $300 million. Investigative Reporting

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Bike Week

DAYTONA BEACH -- Ed Schmidt of Pittsburgh is the first to admit he should be wearing a helmet. But he's not. Then again, some revelers aren't wearing much in the way of clothing either.

Welcome to Bike Week where bikes, babes and booze are the players and the carnage of human road kill has become a pastime.

Schmidt, 35, said he likes to drink, and he'll be doing plenty of that here, but not when he's riding. One thing he's taking a high risk with though, by his own admission, is not wearing a helmet. "It's probably a good idea," he said, of those wearing helmets. But not for him. When asked, "So you take your chances?" His response: "Yes, sir."

Less than 48 hours before today's official start of the 10-day rally that is expected to generate 500,000 bikers, a woman riding on the back of a Harley-Davidson was killed on U.S. 1 in Port Orange, just north of the Ridgewood Avenue intersection.

Amber Brinton, 51, of Las Vegas, riding with her husband, Keith Brinton, the same age, was thrown from their Harley when they were struck by a Lincoln Navigator behind them driven by Judy Anderson, 64, of South Daytona, Port Orange police said of the 8:15 p.m. Wednesday accident. 

Bikers enjoy the bars on Main Street in Daytona Beach on Thursday night, the eve of Bike Week 2012.

Neither of the Brittons were wearing a helmet and both were thrown from the motorcycle. Amber Brinton was pronounced dead a short time after arrival at Halifax Hospital in Daytona Beach. The husband was reported in stable condition. Another couple riding with them were not hurt. The accident remains under investigation.

With Bike Week feeling the effects of the entrenched national recession, biker deaths have been in single digits in recent years. Already though, Main Street was packed with bikes by mid-week, especially Thursday night. 

Last year there were six motorcycle-related deaths, preceded by a low of five in 2010, seven each in 2009 and 2008 and eight in 2007. 2006 was the worst with 20 biker deaths while 2003 was the least with only one fatality. The previous record was 15 in 2000.

Law enforcement officials stress the keys to staying safe are driving defensively, wearing a DOT-approved helmet and refraining from drinking and riding.

"You have to be a specialized rider to ride on two wheels," Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Kim Montes said. "It takes a lot more concentration than in a vehicle. And one drink is too many so the goal should be none for the road."

One third of all motorcycle fatalities in the Sunshine State are the result of bikers riding while intoxicated.



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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet newspaper serving the Daytona Beach-Orlando metro area via, launched April 7, 2008, as Florida's first around-the-clock online newspaper. Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most experienced reporters with scores of regional, state & national journalism-industry awards for nearly 100 breaking news & investigative reporting stories in Florida, New York, Massachusetts & Connecticut.
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