Motorcyclist killed after hitting pothole

Authorities investigate a deadly motorcycle accident on Peach Ridge Ave (May 18, 2014).

ALPINE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A Grand Rapids man is dead after a motorcycle accident in northwest Kent County Sunday morning.

Matthew Michael Denney, 42, was killed in the crash, the Kent County Sheriff’s Department confirmed.

It happened around 8:30 a.m. around Peach Ridge Avenue and 8 Mile Road NW. Authorities say Denney was riding his 2006 Suzuki 1800cc motorcycle northbound on Peach Ridge north of 8 Mile with a group of motorcycle riders.

Denney hit a pothole and lost control, according to the sheriff’s department. He began sliding on the road and was hit by another motorcyclist in the group.

Witnesses stopped to and performed CPR and administered first aid, but Denney died at the scene.

He was not wearing a helmet at the time.

A total of five people were in the motorcycle group on four bikes. The group was heading to a ‘Blessings of the Bikes’ event in Baldwin.

“Potholes are really bad,” longtime motorcyclist Fred Deering told 24 Hour News 8 Sunday.

Deering, 66, said he started riding motorcycles when he was 16. Recently, he said, he’s been staying off his bike because road conditions are poor.

“This year, I almost wanted to call Lansing and ask where a safe place to ride is, to see if they could answer that question,” he said.

The impact with a pothole on a motorcycle’s tire is much greater than it is on a car’s. The rubber tire absorbs the bump, but those tires are thin. Only one hit at the right spot can bend the rim or pop the tire, causing the driver to lose control.

“It jolts you, jolts your motorcycle and it definitely can throw you off,” Deering said. “When you get to the point of you’ve bent a wheel, guess what, you’ve just had a serious accident.”

Deering thinks the state and the county need to step up and spend the money to fix the roads.

Kent County Road Commission Deputy Managing Director of Operations Jerry Byrne said the rural Peach Ridge Avenue does not have much traffic, so it’s low on a long list of roads that need repairs.

“Because of lack of funding, we have not been able to do the type of repairs over the last two or three years,” Byrne said. “Our road conditions — we survey the primaries every year — have shot down drastically over the past three years. We haven’t stuck the money into them because we don’t have the money to stick into them.”

The road commission has been trying to catch up, but is being hindered by recent rainy weather.

And it has already spent about $500,000 on repairs this spring.


Stretches of road that have already undergone 7-year fixes this spring, according to Byrne:

  • Ada Drive off of Forest Hills Avenue SE in Grand Rapids Township
  • Cascade Road near Buttrick Avenue SE in Forest Hills
  • 68th Street east of M-37 SE in Caledonia
  • Pettis Avenue south of 4 Mile Road NE in Ada Township
  • 52nd Street off of Whitneyville Avenue SE in Cascade Township

Stretches that will be worked on in the next 30 days:

  • Kalamazoo Avenue near M-6 in Gaines Township
  • Part of M-44/Belding Road
  • Part of Carl Drive NE in Ada Township


Until the roads get fixed, Deering’s advice is to slow down and watch out for potholes.

“Back in my younger days, I didn’t heed that advice, but I do now,” he said.

Correction: This story earlier identified Matthew Denney as Matthew Benney after a release from authorities contained the incorrect name.

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