GIPD issues warning to motorcyclists about novelty helmets, after man dies from crash

A Loup City man is dead after a motorcycle crash in Grand Island. (GIPD)

A Loup City man is dead after a motorcycle crash in Grand Island. Now, police are saying if he had on a different helmet, things may have turned out different.

According to the Grand Island Police Department, James O'Brien, 46, was wearing a novelty helmet at the time of the crash. Law enforcement says these type of helmets are thin, and do not meet state requirements. Now, police are hoping to prevent more tragedies, by issuing a warning about these helmets.

The crash happened around noon on Thursday, August 10, at the intersection of State Street and Highway 281 in Grand Island. Witnesses tell police O'Brien sped up hoping to beat a red light, but collided with another car before clearing the intersection.

He was taken to St. Francis hospital, where he died at 7:10 p.m. that day. GIPD captain, Jim Duering, says the impact of the crash nearly broke O'Brein's helmet in two.

"This is a tragic situation, and we would like to take this opportunity to point out the fact that he was wearing a novelty helmet. One that is not DOT or Snell certified, and if he had been wearing an actual DOT or Snell certified helmet, it is possible he would still be alive today," said Captain Duering.

State law requires motorcyclists wear helmets while riding. Those helmets must also be certified by the Department of Transportation or Snell.

Police say certified helmets are thicker and have an impact absorbing liner that can lessen risks of a head injury during a crash, which police say was ultimately the reason for O’Brien’s death.

GIPD says some motorcyclists reach for novelty helmets because of comfort, but don't realize they're taking a major risk.

"A novelty helmet does not have any ability to absorb an impact, and in this case the helmet broke nearly in two. A DOT or a Snell certified helmet is both abrasion and impact resistant on the outer shell. It should not break, although sometimes under hard impact it can crack. But, the liner, the Styrofoam, or padded liner is really what protects your head in a collision. That's what the novelty helmets are lacking,” said Captain Duering.

Police say O'Brein's helmet had a counterfeit certification sticker. These stickers are widely available. Captain Duering says some riders put the stickers on helmets that don't meet requirements, even though doing so is against the law.

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