Bikers gather to pay tribute to one of their own

Oceanside man killed in unavoidable motorcycle accident

Big turnout to honor Hugh Williams at the Kraken
  • Big turnout to honor Hugh Williams at the Kraken

On February 1, close to 300 friends and family showed up at the Kraken on Coast Highway 101 for a remembrance and celebration of life of Oceanside resident Hugh Williams.

Williams was killed on the evening of Sunday, January 26, while riding his motorcycle above Lake Hodges on Del Dios Highway, near the intersection of Date Lane. He had just left his friends at the Kraken prior to the accident.

Prior to the gathering, to honor Williams, over 75 motorcyclists rode from the family’s Oceanside home to the crash site, and then to the Kraken. Williams’s family traveled with the group in a limousine with Williams's well-recognized custom-built motorcycle being towed behind.

A CHP report indicates Williams was traveling near the speed limit at around 7:00 p.m., eastbound, when a group of five pedestrians, coming off the trail of the Del Dios Highlands Preserve, was crossing the highway. According to other reports, the group stopped in the middle of the road; two pedestrians reportedly decided to run across the eastbound lane.

Williams swerved to avoid the group, hitting and killing one of the pedestrians. His bike then hit the curb and a highway sign. Reportedly, Williams, riding his new Honda Gullwing, was wearing full safety gear and was known for his safe riding practices.

CHP spokesperson Jim Bettencourt labeled the collision a “tragic accident.” In an NBC7 News report, Bettencourt said, “Unfortunately, at this time in the evening, a motorcyclist doesn’t expect a pedestrian to be standing in the road. There was nothing the motorcyclist could do.”

At the Kraken remembrance, several spoke of Williams, who grew up in Cardiff by the Sea, as a “gentle giant.” His daughter said he was a “big marshmallow inside.”

Hugh Williams with his custom bike

Hugh Williams with his custom bike

Kevin from Encinitas said Williams was nice and kind to everyone he met. “He was never a jerk like many of us are.”

Fellow rider Gary from Solana Beach said Williams's chrome-laden custom bike that he built from the frame up about 15 years ago “is the fanciest of fanciest. He hand-built and engineered everything.”

Disclosure: The writer was a classmate of Hugh Williams from kindergarten through high-school graduation. The two recently became reacquainted at their class reunion last October.

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I looked at the accident scene with Google Street View, and the pedestrians have a clear view of the road in both directions. There's no way they could enter the street without having plenty of warning that Williams' motorcycle was approaching. If they were in the middle of the street, then they were probably tempting fate and acting stupid. I don't know all the facts, but it appears that several in the group should be charged with manslaughter.

The pedestrian that got killed was a Darwin award winner. The problem with Darwins is that they often take innocent guys like Williams with them.

I have learned from driving in the city a lot, there is always a possibility that someone will get in your way. Tragic for all involved.

I think Burwell's account may be the most correct, based on what I heard at the remembrance. I also read in one report that they admitted to seeing the bike coming. At the least, they were screwing around and made a decision to move too late. shirleyberan had it right - Tragic for all.

I am sadden to hear this. I didn't know Hugh, he was a quite one but not into the computers and science so our paths never crossed except at the old San Dieguito High. I never met him on the dirt bike trails either so I didn't know he was a biker.

There was an accident near that same spot about 30 years ago as I recall. It seems the pedestrian had been smoking MJ. I wonder if a drug test will be made or released for those pedestrians. I had started taking note and found many accidents so related but upon inquiry, learned it is not policy. When I took Drivers Ed one mutual acquaintance could not step off the curb to go to the car, he had to walk down to the wheelchair ramp and told me he knew it was only six inches but it seemed like the grand canyon to him. Mr. MacIntyre would not let him drive for a few days and if you can believe it he asked me if I had any idea why.... If pedestrians had taken guns and played Russian Roulette with Hugh, the PC crowd would be all over it. If they were stoned, it will all go away, the loss of Hugh will be forgotten and it will be just another "because they're dangerous" motorcycle accident!

One more thing. If Officer Bettencourt is related to an old family friend Det. Charles, I would love to hear from him.

If Burwell is suggesting they knew the motorcycle was coming and were playing some form of "chicken" then of course manslaughter charges might be in order- however lacking any evidence to support this it's probably over the top speculation to consider that scenario, especially with the frontal area of a late model Goldwing headed at you. (might be funny to do with a little kid on a moped....) On that note, and assuming this was an accident of not looking both ways and seeing him, a late model Goldwing may as well have an electric motor, the damn thing is so quiet. Unless that custom Harley is the only one in the world with an OEM spec muffler, he'd be alive today if he'd been riding it instead of the Goldwing. Guy up my street rides one just like it, you can hear him coming at you two blocks away- on his tail, from dog beach I can hear him getting on the 8 east over six blocks away.

The "accident" occurred at 7 pm. It was dark. The pedestrians had a clear view of the road in both directions for at least 1/2 mile. Go to Google street view and see for yourself. There is no way they could not have seen the headlights of an approaching motorcycle at night. It may well be that the DA thought it would take too much effort to file charges, so the CHP "wrote out" of the investigation by labeling it a "tragic accident". The DA does not want complicated cases that take a lot of effort to prove, particularly if the accused have the money to hire good lawyers. I would like to know if the pedestrians were drinking, and if they were even tested for alcohol.

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