RACINE — Tears were flowing readily Friday afternoon outside the Racine High Riders Motorcycle Club, where members and friends were mourning a death in the family.
Robert R. “Bobby” Whisman, 24, of Racine, was killed early Friday morning after the motorcycle he was riding collided with a car in the 2100 block of Lathrop Avenue.
Racine police and county Medical Examiner Michael Payne said the crash at 12:22 a.m. also sent a 21-year-old Racine woman, a passenger on the motorcycle, to the intensive care unit at Wheaton Franciscan-All Saints hospital, 3801 Spring St.
The young woman, whose name is not being released, had a skull fracture, concussion and bleeding inside her head, Payne said.
Police said earlier that a 39-year-old man who was driving the other vehicle was also being treated for injuries at All Saints. Racine police accident investigators and the Wisconsin State Patrol are investigating the cause of the crash.
According to Payne, Whisman had been at a Lathrop Avenue bar where he met the woman, a friend, and he took her for a ride on a Harley-Davidson Sportster motorcycle. As they headed south on Lathrop Avenue, the other driver, headed north on Lathrop, tried to turn into the McDonald’s restaurant at 2100 Lathrop Ave., and the vehicles collided.
Payne said Whisman was pronounced dead shortly after 1 a.m. at All Saints. The cause of death appeared to be blunt-force injuries to his neck and torso.
Whisman’s late father, Robert M. “Wiz” Whisman, who died in 1998, was a member of the High Riders. And Bobby Whisman was brought up as a “High Riders Kid,” said club member Dan Berget, 42.
“A lot of these guys, they held him in their arms after he was born,” said Berget, 42, a carpet installer from Racine.
Riders gathered at the clubhouse on Washington Avenue in Uptown before riding out as a group to the crash site just after 6 p.m. There, they became part of a group of about 100 who lit candles, left flowers and remembrances and greeted Whisman’s mother, Cathy Cook, and other family members.
The impact of the turnout was not lost on Cook, who told members that when her son would get down, she would remind him how many family members he had looking out for him.
Bobby Whisman graduated from Park High School in 2009 and had in the past year completed an extensive training program at the Motorcycle Mechanics Institute in Phoenix, Cook said.
He was hoping to launch a career in that field and in the mean time had been working at BRP (Bombardier Recreational Products) in Sturtevant, friends and family said.
“He was a young man. He had his whole life in front of him,” Berget said.
Bobby Whisman also was a compassionate person, whose first thoughts after Friday’s crash would have been over the welfare of his passenger, said Victor Cihler, 36, an HVAC technician from Racine.
“He’d be most upset about the girl getting hurt,” Cihler said. “No matter how bad he was or the bike; the bike would mean nothing to him.”
While complete details of the crash are not yet know, Cook said she has been told her son took evasive actions that may have saved the girl’s life.
“He had a very big heart. He cared for people,” Cook said. “From what I understand, he saved that little girl’s life and that’s what he was, that’s what he did – give up his own to take care of someone else.”
Cook and Berget also urged motorists to be alert and aware of motorcycles.
Payne said the authorities are awaiting toxicology results on all three people involved as is required by state law with a fatal accident. It was this year’s first fatal motorcycle accident; there were at least two in Racine County last year, Payne said.
Anyone with information on the crash is urged to call the Racine Police Department Traffic Unit at 262-635-7816.