A pack of motorcycle riders took over the streets of Grand Cayman Sunday, terrifying motorists and taunting police as they rallied at high speed around the island.
Up to 200 riders, many with their faces concealed by masks or bandanas, on quad bikes, dirt bikes and high-powered motorcycles paraded through the island, popping wheelies and performing other stunts throughout Sunday.
The riders were seen blitzing through traffic lights, mounting sidewalks and weaving in and out of traffic throughout the day. Supporters appeared to be filming the event from the back of a Jeep.
As the convoy passed through central George Town around lunchtime, a rider in an orange ski mask could be seen attempting to stop oncoming traffic by the Jacques Scott store, as the group roared through the red light.
When they encountered police roadblocks later in the day in the eastern districts, many of the riders refused to stop, some of them jeering and allegedly throwing bottles at officers as they weaved through the parked police cars and sped away.
Kurt Walton, deputy commissioner of police, said Monday, “What we witnessed yesterday was inexcusable behavior on our roads by a group of people with little regard for their safety or anyone else’s …. It is pure luck that someone was not killed or seriously injured.”
At one stage, police landed the helicopter on the beach in Bodden Town as officers chased the group around the island.
Ten bikes were confiscated but only one person had been arrested in connection with the event by press time Monday.
Complaints started coming in from around midday Sunday, in West Bay, where the rally appears to have begun, before heading to George Town and toward East End.
A heavy police contingent, including Commissioner Derek Byrne, responded, setting up a roadblock in Bodden Town to trap the riders in East End and tracking their progress from the air.
The group scattered, with several riders fleeing into Midland Acres to avoid the roadblock. A group of around 75 to 100 riders, including one man driving a white all-terrain vehicle, brazenly charged the roadblock, driving toward officers and behaving in a threatening manner, according to a police statement.
Officers, guided by the air support unit, tracked down and seized the ATV and arrested the driver, a 30-year-old man from West Bay. He is now on police bail on suspicion of dangerous driving and other traffic offenses. He appears to be the only person involved in the rally who was arrested, though police confiscated several vehicles discarded by riders in Midland Acres.
The police helicopter also landed on the beach near Midland Acres and air support unit officers helped apprehend a man suspected of being involved in the gathering. Later, the helicopter landed in another area of Midland Acres and the crew assisted traffic officers in apprehending two women riding dirt bikes and seizing their bikes.
Other incidents of reckless driving from the riders throughout the day included bikers popping wheelies, standing on their seats and performing stunts as they drove toward oncoming traffic. Police said multiple close calls involving pedestrians and motorists were reported.
The group also blocked an ambulance traveling along the Queen’s Highway on an emergency call, police said.
Deputy Commissioner Walton said, “Whether or not these young people are just looking for an outlet, and whether or not a track for off-road riding should or should not exist, there is no excuse for the criminally dangerous behavior we saw [Sunday].”
Problems with riders on illegal and unregistered bikes driving recklessly on Cayman’s roads has been a long-running concern.
Commissioner Byrne indicated when first took up his position as chief of police that dealing with the problem would be a key priority.
Earlier this month, in response to questions from the Compass, police said they had made 16 arrests in connection with illegal motorbike riding. Of those cases, nine were dismissed without going to court, because of lack of evidence. Two had resulted in driving bans and fines for the offenders, while five others were still going through the court process. Of the 17 bikes confiscated in connection with such incidents, at least five were returned to the owners.
Mr. Byrne declined to be interviewed about the situation Monday.
The Department of Public Prosecutions had not responded to requests for comment Monday.
According to a police statement, the commissioner is establishing a task force headed by Mr. Walton to address the issue of reckless bikers.
The task force will be charged with investigating Sunday’s event and the offenses of “dangerous driving, affray, unlawful assembly, threatening offences, reckless and dangerous acts among other offences that appear to have taken place.”
Anyone with information, pictures or footage is asked to email [email protected] or call 916-3277.