Man dies in motorcycle accident
FORMER Gympie truck driver James Ernest Maher, 48, was enjoying a long-awaited ride on his motorcycle when he slammed into the back of a ute and died in Toowoomba on Monday night.
Nurse Rachel Lawson said her fiancée's job took him away from their South Toowoomba home six days a week and they had spent a rare three days together over the long weekend.
Mr Maher had travelled to Ipswich to watch his prize horse “Ace” compete in the 2010 Arabian Gala Event on Saturday and invited his elderly mother over for dinner on Sunday before spending the day on Monday caring for Ms Lawson who had a migraine headache.
On Monday evening, he dusted off his Ducati Sport 1000, which he hadn't had the time to ride for six months, and went for a joy ride just before 6pm.
Police said Mr Maher was travelling east-bound on James Street in the left lane when he moved into the right lane to overtake a slower car.
However, when he rode into the right lane he crashed into the rear tray of a Ford Courier utility which was stopped and waiting to turn right into Fifth Avenue at 6.05pm.
Mr Maher was wearing protective riding gear, but suffered massive chest trauma and critical internal injuries.
Fire fighters and paramedics desperately worked to save him, performing medical procedures while he was lying on the road, but he could not be revived.
He was pronounced dead on arrival at the Toowoomba Hospital at 6.27pm.
Ms Lawson, who felt something terrible had happened when he hadn't returned home, called the Toowoomba Hospital at 8pm and asked if anyone who was involved in a bike accident had been admitted.
She gave staff her fiancée's name, but they said there was no record of his admittance.
She then called police who took her details and said they would call her back.
When no one returned her call, Ms Lawson and her 25-year-old daughter panicked and drove around Toowoomba, down the Range and back through Murphy's Creek, scanning the ditches for any sign of Mr Maher.
They again called the hospital at 9.30pm to no avail.
Ms Lawson drove to the police station at 10.15pm where officers told her “we were just coming to see you” and she learnt her fiancée had died four hours ago.
Ms Lawson said her fiancée was affectionately known as a “rat bag”. They met three-and-a-half years ago through the online dating website RSVP.
Mr Maher loved his motorbike, his Ford XR8 ute, his horse Ace, his dog Chloe, and his cat Frank.
“Our friends all miss him dearly,” Ms Lawson said. “He loved his truckie mates and was very popular.
“When you look at him, he was the typical bikie type, but underneath (he) was a pussycat with a heart of gold.”
The couple became engaged in February last year and, although they had not set a wedding date, they had already enjoyed a honeymoon at Maleny and Montville.
Mr Maher was born in Gympie, where his brother still lives. His widowed mother lives in an aged care home in Toowoomba.
He had been driving trucks for 28 years.
“That's why I can't understand how he ran into the back of the vehicle. He's so road conscious.”
Police acting officer-in-charge Joe White said it was initially difficult to identify Mr Maher as his bike was registered to a Gympie address.
Insp White said he was sympathetic to Ms Lawson, but said police were busy with the investigation.