Illinois man cited for grass clippings in road after fatal motorcycle crash

Published: Jul. 2, 2019 at 4:49 PM CDT
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A Bureau County man has been issued a ticket for littering after investigators say he blew grass clippings onto a road where a fatal motorcycle crash then occurred.

Jay A. Pankey was mowing his property near Mineral, Illinois, on June 8 when he blew grass clippings onto a stretch of Route 6 near 270 East Street, according to a Bureau County Sheriff accident report obtained by KWQC.

The report says Pankey left an “approximately 1/8 mile long stretch of debris” on the roadway, after which a group of six motorcycles approaching the scene “had to drive near the center line to avoid the grass that was covering half of the roadway.”

One of the motorcycle riders, Thomas E. Zeglen, “slowed down and exchanged finger gestures” with Pankey, who was still mowing at the time.

Zeglen’s wife, Cheryl I. Zeglen, of Canton, Illinois, who was riding another motorcycle, crashed into him after not noticing he had slowed down.

Cheryl Zeglen, who was thrown from her motorcycle, died two days later from injuries sustained in the crash, while Thomas Zeglen refused medical treatment at the scene.

, motorcycle groups and various law enforcement agencies across the country in recent years have attempted to raise awareness that grass clippings blown onto a roadway can create a slick hazard for motorcycles.

the state penalty for first-offense littering of grass clippings in Illinois could result in a $1,500 fine.

The investigation report indicates Pankey is due in court July 9.

The Bureau County Sheriff’s Department tells KWQC investigators determined Cheryl Zeglen was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.

Illinois is one of three states, including Iowa and New Hampshire, which do not require motorcycle riders to wear a helmet,