The FOTP crime scene investigation unit has a long standing reputation for getting to the bottom of some of the SEC’s more infamous scandals, so it was only natural that I make the trip over to Fayetteville to get to the bottom of what really happened in the Bobby Petrino motorcycle crash.
The police report of the incident is fairly cut and dry, as you can see. Petrino was heading west in the westbound lane of Highway 16 when he lost control of his bike and skidded into a pile of limbs and dirt along the side of the road. The report describes the crash site as being just east of Crosses, Ark* (about 25 miles East of Fayetteville). The road is described as two lanes with “improved shoulders”. The stretch of road in question is identified as straight with a noticeable decline. So, a fairly routine description of the scene all around. My visit to the site fills in some of the details that the police report didn’t entirely cover.
The crash site
You can see the skid mark and subsequent trail in the grass left by Petrino’s bike as he careened into what amounts to a huge pile of sticks and dirt. The drop off from the road is even more so than even the picture shows. It’s a good 7 to 10 foot drop to the sticks and beyond that it just gets steeper and more thick with trees. You can also see what an “improved shoulder” looks like in the state of Arkansas. I almost got hit by oncoming traffic a half a dozen times.
This picture better shows the drop off from the shoulder and the actual decline of the road
Upon looking at the crash site, it’s becomes pretty obvious that, even though Petrino got beat up pretty badly, it could have been a whole lot worse.
The pile of sticks and dirt that stopped his fall was both dense and expansive. It runs along the road for thirty or forty yards and serves as a buffer between a much denser tree and rocked area. And, after driving up and down the road in both directions for several miles looking for the site, I can also tell you that that pile is the only one of its kind anywhere near there.
Sticks and stones, Bobby. Sticks and stones.
Here’s the kicker to this area. Petrino’s bike came to rest at the end of the pile of sticks, as seen here. Pretty harmless, a nice soft landing place for his bike, and presumably, him and his passenger. But expand from that cropped photo a mere 5 feet and you see this…
This culvert is about 10 feet deep and filled with large rocks, bottles, and any number of sharp and/or blunt objects that would have done much more damage to the bike, Petrino, and his passenger. So, in at least one aspect off all of this, Bobby Petrino was extremely lucky.
And now lets move to the portion of the investigation where I call Bobby Petrino a big fat fucking liar liar pants on fire.
In the police report, Petrino claims that he was blinded by the setting sun (it was 6:30ish when all of this went down) and that is what caused him to veer from the road, lose control of the bike, and crash it into the above featured pile of sticks and whatnot. This a convenient explanation for all of this. This is an explanation that seems totally plausible given the fact that the police report explains that he was traveling west in the westbound lane, and thus one would assume that the sun might be in one’s eyes at that time of day. Other photoshoppingly gifted and ballad singing individuals, have their own theories.
I tend to subscribe to the above sexy theory, or some semblance thereof given this…Bobby Petrino wasn’t facing West when he crashed. As you can see, even though the police report says he was heading west in the westbound lane, this is the Ozarks, where the feet are bare, taxes haven’t been filed in a fortnight, and the roads, they are a bit winding, and in the case of one Robert Petrino, the road he was on when he crashed was essentially facing due North.
It’s also important to point out that the there is somewhat of a blind left hand turn that leads into that decline straight-away that Petrino crashed on. That means he was facing even further north, almost northeast, as he approached the straight-away.
Even with those facts, lets assume that the sun was bright that day and perhaps Bobby Petrino gazed to his left at the setting sun as he approached that certain stretch of road. He might have stared right into the sun and subsequently wrecked… except, as you can see, there’s a huge, full on tree canopy on the west side of the road.
Full disclosure…this photo was taken at almost midday, so, of course, the sun wouldn’t be behind those trees anyway, but consider that at 6:30 in the evening, its all quite likely that the sun would be behind those trees on the far left.
So, given all of this, what’s more likely… that Bobby Petrino was blinded by a sun that was not in front of him at that time but instead was setting behind a tree canopy to his immediate left…or that Bobby Petrino is a liar with a notable history of lying who yet again is lying about how or why he actually crashed his motorcycle?
Yeah, it was probably the sun…gotta take a guy like that at his word.
(*Editor’s note: The Pig Trail Pit Stop in Crosses, Ark for breakfast will do you right)