Niles man killed on way to Burn Run

Published 9:44 am Monday, July 20, 2009

Niles Daily Star

Sunday morning, 21-year-old Stephen Maines hopped on his motorcycle, a motorcycle he admired so much that he even posted pictures of it on his Facebook page.

He was headed to the Apple Festival Fairgrounds, where he planned to participate in the annual Niles Burn Run charity motorcycle ride that benefits children and teenage burn victims.

It doesn’t seem a stretch for Maines, a Life Action Ministries team member who listed “riding my motorcycle or any motorcycle” in his list of interests, along with listing The Bible as his favorite book.

But Maines would not make the ride.

Around 9:15 a.m., according to Lt. Don Goulooze of the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, Maines struck the rear of a vehicle that had stopped for a dog on the road, fatally injuring himself and sending his 16-year-old sister to the hospital with what were termed “minor injuries.”

The driver of the vehicle Maines’ motorcycle struck, a 70-year-old Niles woman, was traveling northbound on South 11th Street in 2008-model Toyota, just north of Bell Road and south of US-12.

Goulooze said the driver had stopped her vehicle when a dog strayed out into the street and had just started to accelerate when the car was struck by Maines’ motorcycle on the right hand, rear side.

Both Maines and his sister were wearing helmets. She was transported to Memorial Hospital for treatment of injuries sustained in the accident by Southwestern Michigan Community Ambulance Service.

Maines was pronounced dead at the scene.

Traffic was diverted for hours as members of the Sheriff’s Department reconstruction team tried to recreate the moments leading up to the collision, Maines’ motorcycle positioned right at the point of impact, the rear of the vehicle crumpled, torn and twisted.

Members of the Niles Charter Township Fire Department kept traffic moving and were on site to offer assistance.

After news of his death was posted on his Facebook page, friends posted messages saying they would miss Maines, but would see him in heaven.

“…Abba Father, wrap your arms of comfort around Stephen’s family and hold them in Your love…bring them the joy that comes from the hope of knowing they get to spend eternity with You…and that they get to see Stephen again,” said one post.

“We will sure miss you here, Stephen…but we WILL see you again..forever!” said another.
Maines was a team member and employee at Life Action Ministries in Buchanan.

Though an official statement was not available at press time, a representative of the ministry’s human resource department said that when Maines was not on the road taking part in one of the organization’s missions, he also did maintenance and grounds work at the facility.

By noon Sunday, an army of motorcycle riders took to 17th Street as the Niles Burn Run got under way. The run Maines and his sister were planning on taking part in.

One bike was missing.

Funeral arrangements for Maines are pending with Halbritter Funeral Home in Niles.