Motorcycle Accident Kills Rider in Cameron County

Reviewed by Louis Patino, JD, DC

Louis Patino, JD, DC
A former U.S. Army Combat Medic, Dr. Louis Patino is a distinguished attorney recognised by Top Attorneys of America, Expertise, and the American Institute of Trial Lawyers. He has a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Texas Southern University and a Doctor of Chiropractic from Parker College of Chiropractic.

Harley-Davidson representing type of bike involved in a motorcycle accident in Harlingen, Rio Grande Valley

An accident on Loop 499 in Harlingen serves as a tragic reminder of the danger posed to motorcyclists on our roads — and underscores the necessity of protective gear.

The crash happened at 10:14 pm on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, on Loop 499 near Cardenas Motors.

Police arrived at the scene at 26 minutes past, but the motorist, a 32-year-old male traveling South along the highway, died just two minutes later.

Valley Central reported on the accident on March 27; at that time, police were still investigating the crash but speculated the rider may have hit a curb.

With the crash report data now available in the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) Crash Records Information System (C.R.I.S.), we explore what happened.

What the Crash Data Tells Us

Law enforcement quickly ruled out alcohol as a factor in the crash. FOX Rio Grande Valley (RGV) reported that speed may have played a role, but the crash report cited only one contributing factor: failing to drive in a single lane.

The data available in C.R.I.S. does not include the narrative reports submitted by law enforcement — such information is only available by viewing the official accident report, accessible only by the police, individuals involved in the crash, or any other party with a “proper interest“, such as a personal injury attorney.

However, we can speculate that the motorcyclist was weaving across Loop 499’s four lanes or simply lost control during their late-night drive, causing them to crash.

The Vehicle Damage Scale

It’s worth emphasizing that the impact of the crash wasn’t especially severe. Texas traffic crash investigators use a vehicle damage scale to assign a severity rating out of seven. A rating of “1” correlates to “minimum” damage, indicating scratches, dents, or other cosmetic damage, while a damage rating of “7” is reserved for significant structural damage or destruction of components. Any vehicle that sustains maximum damage would require extensive repairs or be deemed a total loss.

The crash data for this accident shows that the Harley-Davidson sustained minor damage; the investigator assigned a vehicle damage rating of “1”.

Why, then, did this crash prove fatal?

The Importance of Motorcycle Safety

Motorcycles notoriously pose a much greater danger to riders, who are not afforded the enclosed protection and additional safety features vehicles like cars and trucks provide. 

Occupants of passenger vehicles benefit from a sturdy frame surrounding them, airbags, and seatbelts. Each of these features mitigates collision damage, whether by providing a physical barrier against the source of impact or reducing the likelihood and severity of injuries by securing motorists from being ejected from their vehicles.

The only protection a motorcyclist has is any gear they choose to wear. One of the most severe dangers riders face is being thrown from their vehicle. With no seatbelt securing a motorcyclist in place, even a minor physical force is likely to send them skidding across the road. Gloves and jackets minimize damage from road rash — painful burns caused by the skin rubbing against asphalt — but these do not safeguard against one of the most devastating and common types of motorcycle injuries: head trauma.

Have you been injured in a motorcycle accident that wasn’t your fault? Book a free, no-obligation case review with our McAllen motorcycle accident attorney to find out if you’re entitled to compensation. We’re available 24/7 and you only pay fees when we win.


Even when not fatal, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) have a life-changing impact on accident victims. Severe TBIs can require years, even decades, of rehabilitation, and even then, victims may never recover full brain function.

In more severe cases, an individual with a brain injury might:

  • Struggle to recall long-term memories.
  • Be unable to remember new information.
  • Have difficulties communicating, such as dysarthria and aphasia.
  • Experience emotional and behavioral changes, including persistent mood swings, depression, aggression, or impulsivity.
  • Be more vulnerable to developing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
  • Suffer physical symptoms that limit their quality of life, such as chronic headaches, dizziness, fatigue, seizures, sight or hearing problems, muscle weakness, impaired coordination, and loss of fine motor control.

Unsurprisingly, though, traumatic brain injuries are often fatal.

In any case, a helmet is critical; without one, motorcyclists leave their heads vulnerable.

It might not be surprising, then, to know that the 32-year-old who died on that Saturday evening in Harlingen was not wearing a helmet.

This gear can make the difference between life and death. For the small percentage of crash victims who might survive despite not having head protection, the choice to wear a helmet represents a severely impacted quality of life versus a life fully lived.

The data supports this, too.

In our 2023 guide to Texas auto accidents, we compiled crash data to determine where the most accidents occurred, what caused them, and whether the state of our roads improved from 2022. We also looked at motorcycle fatalities and helmet use specifically, and the numbers could not better illustrate the life-saving impact of wearing a helmet.

Deaths of motorcyclists/motorcycle passengers not wearing helmets Deaths of motorcyclists/motorcycle passengers wearing damaged helmets Deaths of motorcyclists/motorcycle passengers wearing undamaged helmets
2022 244 281 38
2023 265 300 30

Why, then, do so many motorcyclists forgo a helmet when it poses such a devastating safety risk?

Combating the ‘Reckless’ Stereotype

The greater risk inherent in riding a bike combined with long-held perceptions of motorcyclists as outsiders — no doubt informed by decades of inaccurate media portrayals of bikers as rebellious, anti-authoritarian, and even dangerous — has led to a lingering bias against motorcyclists. The many stereotypes paint bikers as:

  • Violent
  • Uneducated
  • Reckless
  • Thrill-seeking
  • Aggressive
  • Disrespectful (to motorists, pedestrians, and the rules of the road).

These misconceptions are more pervasive than you might realize, capable of negatively influencing accident witnesses and insurance adjusters (who may let an unconscious bias dictate who they view as responsible) and the wider public.

Of course, misrepresentations are exaggerated at best and untrue at worst — the world is not so black and white. Bikers might love the thrill of the road, enjoying a sense of freedom no ride in a passenger car could ever replicate, but that does not mean every motorcyclist will speed down the highway at 100 miles per hour with no concern for the potential consequences.

Such absolute statements are unfair generalizations — we do not argue that all pedestrians are jaywalkers or that truckers work longer than allowed and continue to drive even when fatigued.

It may be tempting to argue that motorcyclists perpetuate the stereotype that bikers are reckless by not wearing a helmet. But is this judgment entirely fair?

What Texas Law Says about Helmet Use

The most common reason so many motorcyclists do not wear helmets isn’t because they are rebelling against authority and openly flouting the law; it’s because few individuals are legally required to wear helmets.

If a biker is over the age of 21 and has completed an approved motorcycle operator training course or has medical insurance that covers motorcycle accident injuries, whether or not they wear head protection is a matter of personal preference.

The lack of mandatory helmet laws means that the police may not pull over a motorcyclist not wearing a helmet to check if they are complying with state regulations. 

This certainly makes it easier for those who should wear a helmet to get away with not doing so, but most bikers who ride without a helmet are not breaking the law. Ultimately, it’s unfair to broadly categorize bikers as ignorant or reckless over a matter of personal choice that is entirely within their rights to make.

The question remains, though, why would motorcyclists choose not to wear a helmet when the life-saving benefits are clear?

A Thought Exercise

Every time you’ve been to the beach or sat in the sun, did you make sure you were fully kitted out in your hat, sunglasses, and a long-sleeved shirt, and lathered with sunscreen?

When you were last in a hurry to cross a quiet road, did you look left, right, and left again, even though you couldn’t hear any traffic?

When you’re out celebrating with family and friends and are not driving, do you count every unit of alcohol you drink, making sure you don’t indulge in a glass too many?

When you’re due a health check-up or annual flu shot, do you book an appointment right on schedule, or have you ever lost track of the date or pushed it back because life has gotten in the way?

It may seem reductive to compare wearing a life-saving piece of head protection with examples such as getting a vaccine or applying SPF 30, but in each of these examples, action (or inaction) has consequences — potentially fatal ones.

There are many reasons you might go against “best practices” or commonly prescribed advice, but it’d likely be a different story if not wearing a hat on a sunny day were a criminal offense.

The same can be said for motorcyclists.

A biker might not wear a helmet because:

  • It’s uncomfortable (especially in hot or humid weather — a common scenario in Texas).
  • They cannot afford it: Motorcycle gear is costly. A poor-quality helmet is little better than not wearing one at all, while ill-fitting helmets that put excessive pressure on the skull can be painful and distracting, making a crash even more likely. Bikers may believe their money is better spent on an armored jacket, gas, or ever-increasing insurance premiums.
  • They are confident in their driving ability and trust other motorists: A biker may believe their quick reflexes, years of experience on the road, and superior driving ability equip them to deal with any hazard on the road. But no motorist can anticipate the actions of others, and even the most skilled biker or driver can struggle to navigate unpredictable conditions. Still, it’s a notion that strikes a chord with many motorists.
  • They underestimate the benefit a helmet provides: Of course, most motorcyclists can appreciate wearing a helmet has significant benefits, but they might not understand the scope of the life-saving impact. It’s easy to point to the figures when we have the number of fatalities in front of us in black and white, but how many of us make a habit of staying up to date on the latest statistics for the many risks in our lives?

This is not the place to challenge the law on helmet use and if head protection should be mandatory for all bikers or officers should better enforce the law, but there may be some credence to the argument that if the law isn’t too worried about the risks, why should motorcyclists?

The Bottom Line

Any death on Texas roads is tragic. It’s tempting to reel off a list of motorcycle fatality statistics, cling to biker stereotypes, make judgments about riders speeding or not paying attention, or condemn bikers for not wearing head protection that could save their lives, but we must avoid making sweeping statements or jumping to conclusions — especially without all the details.

The crash that occurred on March 26 may have turned out to be a case of a biker failing to drive in a single lane — a mistake that cost a man his life — but the multiple news reports speculating on the cause of the crash demonstrate that, at first, the facts surrounding the collision were not so clear.

Had another motorist been involved — such as a driver forcing the motorcyclist off the road — or an auto defect contributed to the accident, the crash would have been even more complex. It may not have changed the outcome for the motorcyclist who sadly died that Saturday night, but his family may have been able to achieve some justice or secure financial support to pay for the funeral and honor his life had someone else been liable.

If you’ve been hurt or lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident in Harlingen, Edinburg, Brownsville, or across the Rio Grande Valley, our McAllen personal injury lawyer can determine if you’re entitled to compensation for your injuries or loss. Dr. Louis Patino — our compassionate and experienced motorcycle accident attorney — is dedicated to protecting and advocating for the rights of his clients and will fight for maximum recovery.

We provide a free, no-obligation case review so you can find out where you stand. We speak English and Spanish and can communicate in whichever language is easier for you, and we can come to you if you cannot come to our McAllen office. Call 855-LAW-NINJA for an informal chat about your options or to book an appointment. You can reach us 24/7.

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