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March 3
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tarrant061115bThree years after a tragic motorcycle crash that claimed the life of their son, the Tarrant family of Santa Clarita continues an ongoing battle to increase safety testing on protective neck gear.

It had never crossed Kathy Tarrant’s mind that on a typical Sunday, she would get a call that would turn her world upside down.

Youngest son Cory called to say he was going to head home from Piru Motocross Park. Not long after, Kathy got another call from older son Derek, who was not at the track at the time, saying he found out Cory had crashed his bike. Mom and Dad rushed to the track, only to see a fire truck and ambulance already on scene. Kathy knew it was bad, and they were going to have to bring in a helicopter to airlift Cory to the hospital.

Cory was unconscious and on a respirator – because after a neck injury, the signals that tell your body to breathe and your heart to pump are interrupted. He was in an induced coma, so he was comfortable and calm. Cory never regained consciousness. He never woke up to know he had fallen and was terribly injured. Six days later, just 17 years old, Cory could no longer fight. He died June 30, 2012.

Cory riding at Piru  | Photo courtesy of Tarrant family

Cory riding at Piru
| Photo courtesy of Tarrant family

“It never ever dawned us that something this tragic could happen at a local track while he was going 25 miles an hour,” Kathy said. “Cory was an amazing rider, and I thought he was going to be OK. I thought the more they rode, the better they got, the safer they would be.”

The whole way to the hospital, Kathy kept saying, “He’s going to be OK. He’s got a brand-new, expensive helmet on, and he’s got his neck brace on. He’s going to be OK. He’s going to be OK.”

After arriving at the Los Robles Trauma Center, that’s when they got the word that Cory had broken his neck in two places.

“Those were the words I’d never ever thought we’d hear, because he was wearing his so-called protective neck brace,” Kathy said.

 

Safety first

Growing up, safety was the No. 1 priority. For the Tarrants, riding wasn’t about the money, going pro or getting the “golden ring.” A lot of families get lost in the hype of wanting their kids to go professional and don’t realize the business that goes on behind the scenes.

The family finally put aside the grief over Cory’s death to focus on how others could avoid the same fate.

“There’s a lot of danger in the sport, but I think if some people would actually take the time to get some more information and be able to put that out for everybody, I think it would happen a little bit less, and that’s obviously a good thing even if it’s just a little bit,” said Derek.

When neck braces first came out, manufacturers did not publish safety-testing results. After all of the commotion with the status of neck braces, the companies have posted them, but the most recent found was from six years ago. Also, the videos posted online that supposedly break down the results were posted in 2012, and there are only three episodes versus a 145-page result.

Motocross blog VurbMoto contributor David Izer writes: “Skeptics want more data, but the approval on such a study remains frustratingly in the future while the decision to wear a neck brace is very much in the present. I simply want safety to follow the same trend and keep pushing the envelope along with performance, and I feel the neck brace is the next logical step in that progression.”

Riding was a family affair. The Tarrants built the love of riding around camping and having a good time being together. They would take a trip to Glamis, Calif., every other weekend. Derek was about 9 years old when he got his first bike, and Cory was about 2. Cory lived to ride dirt bikes.

“He embodied the whole spirit of riding,” said Kathy. “Every day that Cory rode, he was in a good mood. It was a good day even if the track was muddy or dry. He never complained about anything.”

 

Spreading the message

C&D Motosports |  Photo by Amanda Moulton

C&D Motosports |
Photo by Amanda Moulton

The Tarrants own a motorcycle shop called C&D Motosports in Santa Clarita. After coming back from such a tragic accident, one might think the family would just pack up and go, but instead they stayed.

“It’s hard, but it’s something that we all love to do, and we’re really involved with, so it’d be a lot harder just to quit,” said Derek. “It’s cheesy, but everyone says it: It’s not what Cory would want anybody to do.”

It’s almost if the Tarrants have a new purpose.

“If Cory was still here, we’d still be doing this,” Derek said. “We’re not going to change everything around because of what happened. And this gives us an outlet to help people get the information they need and everybody safer. That’s why we stay here.”

The Tarrants have one simple yet bold message: “Do your research.” When it comes to safety equipment, know what you’re wearing and don’t believe whatever you read from the magazines and reviews. Motocross equipment should be stamped with DOT, ECE 22.05 or Snell stickers, which are three organizations that set safety standards for motorcycle equipment.

Walking into C&D Motosports today, Cory’s presence doesn’t seem too far in the past. You’ll find everything from pictures on the walls of Cory him riding his dirt bike, to memorabilia you can hold onto. Cory’s bike also sits proudly in the shop; if you look closely, you can see personal messages on the bike from Cory’s adoring friends and family.

You can also find Kathy sitting behind the counter, still considering what she might say to someone whose child wants to ride.

“It’s not about going fast. It’s not all about going crazy. It’s about having a good time, maintaining your equipment, and riding with the proper safety equipment on.”

 

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19 Comments

  1. kmm says:

    How insensitive.. Why don’t you go troll the internet somewhere else.

    • Kathleen Thune says:

      Stephan Gilman you are out of line, speaking your mean words. You don’t need to share on this site. I lost my son to luekemia last August and grieving parents don’t need unsensative remarks on here. So sorry for your tragic loss!
      Kathleen Thune

  2. He was a great kid. I’m glad his family continues to do what they all love in his honor. Their presence means that the message of safe gear will be heard by those that are willing to listen.

  3. I think we were driving by there when the helicopter arrived. I always wondered if he made it. What a heart breaking story. I was going to stop by with my kids because they like watching the bikes.

  4. I feel your pain my son died like that three years ago as well on a motorcycle broke his neck

  5. 2 of my good friends are in wheelchairs due to dirt bike accidents. One involved alcohol and the other was a terrible accident. Both broke their necks and are now paralyzed. It’s sad but with any sport there is a risk. :(

  6. I think motorcycles are dangerous period.

  7. I think just about everyone I know who rides has been injured. Some pretty badly. I’m Sorry for this family though. That’s the worst scenario.

  8. So sorry for your loss…
    My son use to ride at that same track and he fell a few times..once he was knocked unconscious for a dew minutes. He had all that safety stuff. .but it won’t protect to good….he’s pretty much grown out of that for now…
    We love Supercross, it just sucks when they go down or get injured even more.

  9. Cory was friends with my son Christian. I am glad his family is finding strength by keeping his memory alive.

  10. kathy says:

    I’m not sure how SCV News got this story. Maybe it was because they have followed our family through Cory being a organ donor, Cory’s Foundation donating hundreds of teddy bears to our local hospital or maybe it was our story about building Cory’s Pavilion at the Piru motocross track or the story about us raising thousands of dollars three years in a row for OneLegacy which was the organization who coordinated Cory’s gifts of life. You see Cory was so much more then just a kid on a dirt bike. He was kind, respectful and never once in his whole 17 years EVER raised his voice to me. That is why we do what we do. How ever this story came to publication, thank you. This story was done as a final term paper from an inspiring journalist who assignment was to pick a current event that touched her. Amanda, thank you and thank you to all who have given heart felt comments. To Stephen I hope the glass house you live in has triple pane glass windows, sounds like you might need that. Here are a few facts that many may not beware of. The #1 cause of death in this country is heart disease caused by obesity. The #1 cause of head injuries in this country is snow skiing and snowboarding accidents, followed very closely by skateboarding accidents and the #1 cause of neck injuries is diving into water whether it is a backyard pool or a lake. The #1 cause of deaths in teenager in this country is traffic accidents followed closely by suicide. Many of these can and will be prevent by better laws and safer equipment. We as a society have the right to know that the cars we drive and the equipment we buy has been thoroughly tested and have meet certain standards. That is not necessarily the case in all products sold in this country. Knowledge is power.

  11. Laurie says:

    I really don’t know how I stumbled across this article. Being a part of the motorcycle/dirtbike family, I had to read it. Every time my boyfriend as well as our other friends rides, I say a prayer. This is their love and passion. I would never want to take that away from any of them. I know people say that motorcycles are dangerous. While that may be true, a lot of things are dangerous, even going to the local breakfast joint and getting shot by a stranger on your way out. I’ve lost family and friends to tragedies that I will never get over (not motorcycles). All I can say, is that in each case, my loved one was doing what they loved and lived for. If they had to go, at least their last moments were full of happiness and excitement. Much better than staring down the barrel of a gun!
    My boyfriend and I also have a motorsports store (on the east coast). We stress to our customers to research the products they buy. We let them know if there is something better. If we feel its a money issue, we often times discount drastically and take a loss, if it means that our customer will be safe. Our customers become our family.
    Kathy, I wish I could give you a hug. I feel your pain and thank you for fighting for all the riders out there. You are an angel!
    I second Kathy’s final comment – KNOWLEDGE IS POWER! My final words to people out there – Do what you love, love what you do, but please be safe!

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