Police Sergeant Paul Parizek says it happened just before noon Wednesday on Fleur Drive, southwest of downtown Des Moines. The motorcycle and SUV were both southbound and shifting lanes to pass a Des Moines Waterworks vehicle that was stopped on the roadway for maintenance work.
“We don’t why just yet, we’re looking at maybe mechanical error or operator error, but according to witnesses the SUV accelerated pretty rapidly as the motorcycle was slowing,” Parizek explained. “It struck the motorcycle from behind and it swept the motorcycle and the driver of the bike underneath the SUV. It continued on, dragging him, about 250 feet down this road.”
Rescue crews arrived to find the motorcyclist, 44-year-old Louis Kuehl trapped underneath the Chevy Equinox. “Firefighters did some remarkable work…it was very impressive to watch,” Parizek said. “They were able to provide medical care while he was pinned underneath the car, while other firefighters were arranging the rescue. Eventually, after about 30 minutes, they were able to raise the car and pull him out from underneath.” Seventy-year-old Shirley Kephart of Des Moines was driving the SUV. According to Parizek, impairment and excessive speed have been ruled out as factors in the crash.
“My personal opinion, just having years of experience, I think she thought she was going to hit the brake and she hit the gas,” Parizek said. Kuehl – who was not wearing a helmet – is being treating for serious injuries, but is expected to survive.
“I really thought when I was watching this that we were eventually going to be talking about a fatality crash,” Parizek said. “I have never seen…mechanically what I saw, as far as him being completely underneath, trapped under the vehicle, and still alert and talking to us.” Kephart was not injured in the crash.