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Crash Survivor Recalls Final Moments

By John Craven
Published On: Aug 04 2011 06:45:26 AM CDT
Updated On: Jul 03 2011 08:58:46 AM CDT
BANGOR, Pa. -

Alcohol was likely a factor in a fiery crash that killed two motorcycle riders on Friday, a top law-enforcement official said.

Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli said the driver of the pick-up truck who crashed into the motorcycles will likely be charged early next week.

Meantime, the one rider who walked away from the crash shared his story with 69 News on Saturday.

George Courtis said he'll never be able to erase the memory of the crash.

"I watched four of my brothers go to the hospital, and two of them die, right in front of me," he said.

The crash happened on Route 512 in Bangor, Northampton County.

According to Morganelli, a pick-up truck veered into the wrong lane and collided head-on into one motorcycle, which triggered a chain-reaction crash with six others. Two of the riders were killed; four others went to area hospitals.

Evidence indicates the pick-up truck's driver, John Heaney III of Lopatcong Township, N.J., was under the influence of alcohol, Morganelli said.

Courtis, and another witness who spoke to 69 News, said Heaney veered into the bikers' lane and hit them head-on.

"One of the guys in my pack yelled, 'Look out,' and all I saw was brakes lock up and this guy just plowed right into my brothers," Courtis said. "Struck them so hard that the first motorcycle exploded on impact ? The other bike on the right-hand side was thrown 25 yards ahead of the truck, into the brush."

Killed in the crash were Keith Michaelson and Michael Zadoyko, both from Passaic County, N.J. The two men were members of the Last Chance Motorcycle Club, a group of men recovering from alcohol addictions. Courtis said all members share a close bond.

"We laugh together, we cry together," he said. "We're family."

The group was traveling from New Jersey to a fellow member's funeral wake in Monroe County. Initial news reports that said the victims were on a charity bike ride were not accurate.

Now, Courtis is dealing with the pain of wondering why he was spared, when his two brothers were not.

"I was in the back of the pack of bikes," he said. "I don't know why, but for some reason, God had spared me the pack of the lot."

Morganelli is looking at charges up to possibly vehicular homicide, but probably won't make a final decision until early next week. A check of records shows John Heaney does not appear to have any previous criminal record.