CAMBRIDGE TWP., MI – He was leaving a veterans’ presentation at a restaurant and bar on U.S. 12 in northwestern Lenawee County.
A group of fellow riders were just behind Joshua VanBelzen, 26, of Ypsilanti when VanBelzen failed to negotiate a curve about 5:25 p.m. Aug. 26 near Allen Lake and Person Highway and slid into a 2004 Ford pickup truck.
VanBelzen, a veteran, died at the crash site, Cambridge Township police Chief Jeff Paterson said.
It was an emotional scene; the group of about 20 friends and motorcyclists stopped and stayed with VanBelzen while police investigated.
As a showing of respect, a nearby homeowner learned he was a serviceman and brought out an American flag to drape over the body, said Paterson, who commended the neighbor for the sort of gesture that reaffirms the good in humanity.
VanBelzen had been heading east on U.S. 12. He was west of the public access to Allen Lake, where there is a dramatic curve book ended by signs with flashing yellow lights and a recommended 35 mph speed limit. The 2012 Victory motorcycle crossed the centerline. It hit the pickup, driven by a 90-year-old Addison man.
The pickup driver, William Szentmiklosi, and his wife Elizabeth, a passenger, went to Henry Ford Allegiance Health in Jackson as a precautionary measure because of their ages. Both were shaken by the incident, the chief said.
VanBelzen had been at an event at Artesian Wells Sports Tavern at U.S. 127 and U.S. 12, Paterson said.
It was advertised on the business’ Facebook page as a “combat vet bike presentation” organized by Foundation 14, a nonprofit organization supporting “our veterans and their passion to ride motorcycles.” A Marine was honored with a custom Harley Davidson as part of the “more than a motorcycle project.” An after party followed; about 200 people were in attendance, according to Artesian Wells.
The chief said whether alcohol was a factor is part of an ongoing inquiry. He was awaiting autopsy and other findings. The Lenawee County Sheriff’s accident investigation team is assisting.
VanBelzen was wearing a helmet, said a neighbor who saw the headgear near the damaged motorcycle.
He had left the gathering just before the others, who did not witness the crash, but were distraught when they came upon it.
Police called for the Lenawee County Victim Services Unit, a trained volunteer group tasked with comforting and helping victims with short-term crisis intervention, and they rendered some aid.
VanBelzen’s family on Sunday asked for prayers in a Facebook post. “He was trusting in Jesus Christ for Eternal Salvation and we are confident we will see him again one day in Glory,” read a message from VanBelzen Auction House, northwest of Grand Rapids.