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Motorcyclist's Family Suing Freeholder Director Over Fatal Accident

The parents of William Kolb are seeking unspecified damages against John P. Kelly in the May 2012 accident

The parents of a motorcyclist who was killed in a May 2012 collision with a sports utility vehicle in Eagleswood have filed suit against Freeholder Director John P. Kelly, the driver of that SUV.

Richard and Linda Kolb of Barnegat filed a wrongful death lawsuit in state Superior Court in Ocean County in September, alleging that Kelly was negligent in his driving in the accident, which killed William D. Kolb. 

Kolb, 24, of Barnegat was southbound on Route 9 on his black 2011 Harley Davidson about 6:35 p.m. on May 18 when, according to reports at that time from the State Police, he attempted to pass a vehicle in front of him and collided with the right fender of Kelly's 2005 Chrysler Pacifica. Kelly had been northbound on Route 9 and was attempting to turn left into the parking lot of West Creek Deli, according to those reports.

Kolb was thrown from the motorcycle and died at the scene, police said.

Blood tests conducted on Kelly for drugs and alcohol came back negative, and no charges were filed against Kelly, police said.

In the lawsuit, the Kolb family alleges Kelly is at fault for not properly checking to make sure there was no oncoming traffic before making his left turn into the deli, which Ronald Prusek, the Kolbs' attorney, said was actually the freeholder's deli, Kelly's Deli & General Store on Route 9 in West Creek.

"The law says you have to be reasonably sure of being able to complete a turn safely," Prusek said by phone. "(Kelly) misjudged his ability to do that."

Kelly, reached by phone on Friday, would not comment.

"I have attorneys working on the case, and they have advised me not to comment," Kelly said.

The case was transferred to Superior Court in Monmouth County due to the fact that Kelly is both a freeholder and the freeholder board's liaison to the Ocean County courts.

In court papers filed so far by Kelly's attorney, Mary E. McLaughlin of Morganville, Kelly denies the allegation that his driving was negligent and says  Kolb's actions contributed to his death, though they do not specify what those actions might be.

"I'm very sorry that a young man lost his life," Kelly said at the time. "That's all I have to say right now. I'm physically fine. It's traumatic."

Kolb's family said in news reports he had been planning to open an auto repair business in the weeks before the accident.  He was described as fun-loving by friends.

BN January 19, 2013 at 12:00 AM
And I wonder if he ever had a motorcycle rider course.
ray January 19, 2013 at 12:08 AM
Yeah, Kolb contributed to the accident. He was riding his bike. I guess that gives Kelly the right to run him over with his SUV. I mean, isn't that the law in NJ? The bigger you are, the righter you are.
Ray January 19, 2013 at 12:16 AM
It appears that Kelly was making a left hand turn because his right front fender was damaged. He is at fault. His insurance company will settle the case. It was an accident and I'm sure he feels bad about it.
Gary J Daley January 19, 2013 at 12:23 AM
He turned in front of another vehicle. He is at fault. As for his being a good guy for the taxpayers: He's a freakin politician. It was his choice. Any negatives suffered thereof are entrely of his making.
Ken January 19, 2013 at 12:37 AM
Ray I hope you are wrong about his insurance settling this case. I hope Kelly loses the case and loses everything he owns including his pensions. He took a person's life and as freeloader he is in chairman incharge of public safety and law. What does that say about the political system in Ocean County?
diane January 19, 2013 at 01:26 AM
Is this the same guy whose daughter stole 40G from the tax office? What a group! I am so sorry for the family of the motorcycle rider, it must be awful for them. Stay strong.
Skitch January 19, 2013 at 02:23 AM
As a claims adjuster who has no love of politicians, and doesn't even live in the area to know anything about either family, I would have to say a majority of the liability belongs on the motorcycle. Kelly was legally turning left. The motorcycle was passing when it was unsafe to do so. The motorcycle hit the Kelly vehicle on the right fender which would lead me to believe Kelly was already into his turn when the accident occurred. Kelly at that point could do nothing. The motorcycle has an obligation to make sure that it is clear and safe to pass or over take a moving vehicle on the left (MVA law). Obviously it was not clear or safe to pass and unfortunately the motorcycle paid the ultimate price. Just my take from the little to no facts of the article above. I'll pray for both families. My sympathies to the family who lost their son. Nothing can ever replace him. Not by blaming someone else or a cash settlement.
Skitch January 19, 2013 at 02:25 AM
Bob Duer, you hit the nail right on the head!
Nancy January 19, 2013 at 02:42 AM
Why doesn't everyone just wait and see how this horrible accident happened instead of guessing games. Nobody was there to witness this and if they were they aren't talking. Did any of you think that maybe he was passing the vehicle in front of him on the right, which is illegal. Maybe the vehicle was making a left turn and he attempted to go around him when he collided. Maybe this or that happened, maybe not. Wait for the right information so in the meantime continue to make fun of his weight or his daughter, whichever it is that makes you feel good.
~Barb~ January 19, 2013 at 04:06 AM
So based on his politics you are making the assumption that he is at fault and should lose everything? Mob mentality and kangaroo courts are everyone's enemy. Don't be so willing to rewrite our laws. Someday you may find yourself in a similar situation.
EasyRider January 19, 2013 at 04:26 AM
I would think the vehicle the motorcycle passed was in a perfect position to witness the accident. Hopefully that driver has come forward.
Scott Neuman January 19, 2013 at 09:38 AM
This was filed in September? Why is it just being reported now?
JB08753 January 19, 2013 at 11:22 AM
Maybe for the same reasons the politicians didnt deport the convicted illegal sex offender.
CM January 19, 2013 at 01:27 PM
Perhaps we should appoint a township chief of police to the position. It's sickening that politics begets such nepotism and cronyism.
tom January 19, 2013 at 05:10 PM
What? You don't think the chief of police in all the different towns does not play politics? Every single decision they make in all these towns is sickening, about politics that begets such nepotism and cronyism.
Peter Lester January 20, 2013 at 12:51 AM
I didn't know the Chrysler Pacifica featured that kind of head room.
Mrgrumpass January 20, 2013 at 05:43 PM
I wonder if the Felly Family will make it to the TV show GANGLAND. Will we have to call him Don Kelly Freeholder?
holden2112 January 20, 2013 at 05:50 PM
Seems to me that no one (bike or car) should be passing someone on the left on Route 9...way too much traffic in this area. I have never seen a car attempting to pass on the left on Route 9. I dont know who is at fault but at a minimum it is reckless behavior to pass someone on the left on Route 9. Reckless behavior sometimes has bad consequences.
A Citizen January 20, 2013 at 10:32 PM
In that area there is a broken yellow line so passing on the left is perfectly legal. The Kelly family believe they are above the law. Just look at what his daughter did to support her drug habit.
mel January 20, 2013 at 11:20 PM
It is AWFUL that a life was lost in this accident, but regardless, no matter who was at fault, Freeholder Kellys insurance company will still settle! I had a similar situation happen and the motorcyclist was 100% at fault. He was not passing anyone, but was speeding and came head on in to my lane after taking a curve too quickly and lost control of the bike...I stopped completely to avoid hitting him, he crossed in front of my vehicle, went off the road and was thrown after hitting a tree! He suffered major injuries, but luckily survived! He told police his throttle stuck and was issued a ticket for careless driving, but wo years later, he sued me for "causing his accident" and my insurance company settled even though it was proven he was at fault!
Sandra January 21, 2013 at 08:57 PM
I think they were both at fault. What is the circumstances of the vehicle in front of the cyclist? Was he turning? Was the cyclist passing on the right shoulder? Was he passing within the guidelines of motor vehicle laws? If he was on the shoulder he was wrong because you are not suppose to pass anyone on the right side at any time. If that was the case, no one could expect Kelly to see what is not suppose to be there. And then there is Kelly turning into the parking lot of the business without waiting to see if it was safe. yes...true. But the only one who really knows is the vehicle that the cyclist was trying to pass. What was he doing or where was he going. Turning? Please be specific. I think the cyclist family may be trying to jump on the Beat Kelly up bandwagon. I don't even vote for the man but surely he should not have to be beat up. BTW...my family rides bikes and although my words may seem one sided, there are a number of bikers who do not ride safely.
VoiceofReason January 22, 2013 at 07:12 PM
Guy on the motorcycle was in a hurry - young kid, on a Harley, zipping around on his bike on a nice day in May. Couldn't wait to wind it up and hit 100mph. The guy in front of him wasn't going fast enough so he passed him...on a 2 lane road, thought he had enough room to pass and didn't. Kelly was already into his turn when the bike hit him. "...according to reports at that time from the State Police, he attempted to pass a vehicle in front of him and collided with the right fender of Kelly's 2005 Chrysler Pacifica" Attempted being the key word here - CLEARLY the biker underestimated his space. Kolb family needs to stop trying to make a buck on their sons death and ruin another family in the process. Just let the memory of your son live on and let this go. What an awful way to treat the departed. Making money off his death. You should be ashamed.
Ken January 22, 2013 at 09:07 PM
Did you ever think maybe they are not trying to "make a buck" from their son's death, but maybe feel that someone should pay for their son's death since the state would not do anything?
VoiceofReason January 23, 2013 at 12:41 PM
No. Not at all. I lost someone in an accident and wasn't pointing fingers at someone else. Its not about winning a lawsuit and making money. Those people are sick. Thats all this is. Publicity and Money.
Ken January 23, 2013 at 09:13 PM
Do you know these people? Seems like you have some kind of grudge against them since now you are saying all they want is publicity and money. If I lost a child I would want neither, but I might feel that someone should pay or at least accept responseability. I just do not get your anger against them.
VoiceofReason January 25, 2013 at 06:45 PM
I don't know anyone involved. No grudge, but it just seems like any chance people can get money out of a bad situation, they do. If the emergency response people who were at the scene at the time of the accident, determined it was in fact an accident and neither party were to blame, then when try to sue and 1) Tell the emergency responders that they are wrong and 2) open old wounds on a closed subject. An accident is an accident and sometimes the results are not good. Unfortunately riding a motorcycle is a risky things in the first place - mix that with a collision into a SUV and it more than likely won't turn out well. The situation sucks, but it shouldn't be a money maker. no anger - just hate how people use every single stretch they can to get "paid"
Ken January 25, 2013 at 09:52 PM
Wow you really are bitter. I know money could never replace a human, but everyone needs to grieve in their own way, plus maybe they figure they can get more answers if this goes to court. I may be wrong but I can not picture an parent thinking any amount of money can replace a son or daughter
VoiceofReason January 28, 2013 at 01:33 PM
You must be a relative of someone on the side trying to collect.
Ken January 28, 2013 at 11:17 PM
I do not know any of the parties persoanlly, but I have a feeling you are related to Kelly with all that you have written
VoiceofReason January 31, 2013 at 03:41 PM
Kelly who!? I don't know any of them. Get a life. Jeez

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