The Omaha World Herald reported last week on the unfortunate death of David Splittgerber, a resident of Omaha. Just twenty-three, David was riding his motorcycle northbound on Interstate 29 in Council Bluffs when he lost control of his bike. David was riding a 2007 Harley Davidson, and authorities have suggested that he may have been struck by a second motorcycle shortly after his own started sliding down the road. The second motorcycle was manned by David’s brother, Andrew. Andrew’s motorcycle landed about 100 feet from his brother’s. The Iowa State Patrol, who responded to the accident, inferred a chain of events that David and Andrew’s father has since called into question. Gene Splittgerber objected to the state patrol’s suggestion Andrew and his bike were the cause of David’s death. Gene remarked that “even the doctor said David had to have hit an immovable object to cause the internal injuries he had.” Andrew doesn’t recall hitting his brother’s bike or his brother, and the damage to David’s bike seems to suggest David did, in fact, hit an immovable object (i.e. not Andrew or his bike). Some news agencies are reporting the state patrol’s opinions about the event, despite their contradicting Andrew’s. One can only imagine that the questions surrounding the accident, and this kind of coverage, only deepens the sense of loss and tragedy for David’s family.
A successful and respected scholar with a degree in civil engineering, David was one of five children. He loved woodworking and rebuilding car engines. Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family, especially in light of the attention and inattention paid to this story. It is this writer’s opinion that each of the news stories covering David’s accident should have been carefully written to avoid the unsupported conclusion that Andrew was somehow culpable in David’s death. While this is in no way a solicitation for legal services, the Splittgerber family should know that Andrew may have a claim for defamation based on the stories about his involvement. Additionally, it is important for the family to know that a claim against the insurance policy issued for David and his bike may be possible, despite the fact that no other drivers were involved. If you knew David, the Splittgerbers, or simply wish to extend your condolences and warm wishes to the family, messages can be left in a legacy book for David at http://www.legacy.com/gb2/default.aspx?bookid=6240714548574&cid=view.