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Kent County sees increase in motorcycle crash fatalities this year

6 people have died in motorcycle crashes in Kent County so far this year, compared to only 1 in 2022.

KENT COUNTY, Mich. — So far in 2023, there have been more people who have died in motorcycle crashes than the previous year in Kent County. 

In 2023, six people have already died in motorcycle crashes, compared to only one last year. That's according to the Kent County Sheriff's Office. 

There were more crashes total last year, with 141 in 2022 involving motorcycles and 134 in 2023. However, the year is not yet over. 

21-year-old Jared Gossage of Wyoming is one of the six. 

"I struggle with the fact that Jared will never get married," said Elizabeth Shoemaker, Jared's cousin, during a vigil, "Jared will never have a child. Jared will never get to travel like he wanted."

Just after midnight on Saturday, 21-year-old Jared Gossage was killed when he got into a crash with a vehicle in Grand Rapids. When officers arrived, they say four people in the vehicle that hit Jared ran away.  Grand Rapids Police were able to find the driver, an 18-year-old Oklahoman man, who is now facing charges. 

"People running away from the scene of an accident, I've seen a lot of it in the news in our community lately," said Shoemaker, "And it's super disheartening, because there's no empathy or humanity. It's soulless. It's evil. Someone is dead, and you just kept going."

According to Michigan State Police, there has not been a significant increase in motorcycle crash fatalities statewide this year. 

"Why is that year over year? Can’t always pin point everything, but we sometimes see common factors," said Sergeant Eric Brunner with Kent County Sheriff's Office. 

Brunner said often those factors include speed and not wearing a helmet, though not illegal in Michigan. 

Also, other drivers are a big factor in these crashes. 

"Please leave a lot of space between you and a motorcycle," said Brunner, "They’re harder to see because they’re a smaller vehicle."

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