A motorcyclist who died when he crashed during a high-speed police chase last month had a blood alcohol level of more than twice the legal limit, an investigation revealed.
Andrew S. Lown, 26, of Cedar Rapids, was killed July 8 when he crashed his motorcycle into a corn field along Highway 100 in Marion. Investigators determined Lown was traveling an estimated 124 mph when he struck a median near Menard Lane and lost control. His blood-alcohol content was 0.186, according to a police report released Thursday.
Linn County Sheriff Brian Gardner said the chase was justified and did not violate department policy. He said Lown had been speeding before the chase began and appeared to be impaired. Weather conditions were normal, and the chase happened around 11 p.m., when traffic was light, Gardner said.
“Certainly it’s a tragedy,” Gardner said. “You never want this outcome to occur. I think we have an obligation, though, to safeguard the motoring public.”
According to a police report, a Linn County deputy first spotted Lown while he was finishing a traffic stop on Highway 13 just north Mount Vernon Road. He said a motorcyclist that passed him “seemed to have unsteady balance, as the bike made erratic side to side motion.” The deputy reported he was traveling 120 mph in an attempt to catch the motorcycle on Highway 13, but was not gaining on the bike.
Lown stopped for a red light at the corner of Highways 13 and 100, but he ignored the deputy’s flashing lights, turned west and sped away, authorities said. Dash camera video released Thursday shows Lown struggled to maintain his balance as he made the turn.
Lown ran red lights at the intersection of South 22nd Street and East Post Road, according to the video. The brake light on the motorcycle went dark during the chase, making it difficult for the deputy to keep track of the bike. Six vehicles pulled over during the three-mile chase.
A witness told authorities Lown passed him and then appeared to hit a median and lose control near Menard Lane. The motorcycle crossed the eastbound lanes of traffic and a ditch before stopping well into the corn field, according to the police report. Lown was pronounced dead at the scene. He was not wearing a helmet, which is legal in Iowa.
Chelsea Kramer, 31, of Cedar Rapids, who had dated Lown in the past, was one of several people who erected a memorial for Lown along Highway 100 in the days following the crash, and remains close with Lown’s family.
“He did make a wrong choice, and we can’t take that back now,” Kramer said. “If he had to do it all over, he probably would have made a different choice. We don’t love him any less.”
Kramer said a memorial motorcycle ride and poker run for Lown will be held Sept. 15, with proceeds to benefit Lown’s 17-month-old daughter, Aubrey. Anyone interested in participating should email firstname.lastname@example.org.