Orange-masked dirt bike rider arrested

This masked biker, stopped in the middle of a busy George Town intersection on Nov. 26, 2017, has been arrested by police. - Photo: James Whittaker

Six months after Grand Cayman’s “Ride of the Century” that saw dozens of motorbikers storm a police roadblock and exhibit a general disregard for road rules, the man depicted in a photograph that became symbolic of the event has been arrested.

The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service announced the April 20 arrest on Tuesday.

The 26-year-old George Town man was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving and committing a reckless and negligent act. He was released on police bail after his arrest and had not been charged as of press time Wednesday.

“The arrest is in relation to the reckless riding which took place during the illegal motorbike event, named ‘Ride of the Century,’ on Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017, where the man arrested was one of the main participants,” a police statement about the arrest read.

Police confirmed to the Cayman Compass that the man depicted wearing an orange ski mask in a picture of the Nov. 26 rally carried on the front page of the newspaper released the next day was the person officers arrested April 20. “Based on our investigation, that is the person who was arrested on Friday and is currently on police bail,” RCIPS spokesperson Jacqueline Carpenter said.

The man’s name is not being released because he has not been charged.

According to police reports, there was only one other arrest – aside from the one made on April 20 – connected with the Nov. 26, 2017 ride.

Compass staff observed a convoy of motorcycles and other vehicles around noon that Sunday passing through the intersection of North Sound Road and Shedden Road in central George Town. A rider in an orange ski mask was seen attempting to stop traffic in the intersection as a large group of bikers drove through a red light.

It was estimated that up to 200 riders, a number of whom had their faces covered, participated in the incident. A similar ride involving 50-100 riders was held around the same time in November 2016, with riders exhibiting lawless behavior, popping wheelies, swerving into opposite lanes of traffic and stunt riding.

Some of the vehicles used in the rides were street-legal, others were not. Police said they seized about 10 motorbikes during the November 2017 ride. However, some of those vehicles had to be returned because the riders were able to show legal ownership of the vehicles.

Police commanders have recently lobbied for a change in local traffic laws to take a tougher stance against the use of non-street legal motorbikes on the roads.

Police Commissioner Derek Byrne said police wanted to make it easier to seize and destroy non-street legal dirt bikes. In addition, Mr. Byrne said the police service was working with other government agencies to increase traffic fines for things like speeding, DUI, driving without insurance and other traffic offenses “across the board.”

Mr. Byrne said last week that police are having difficulty seizing illegal bikes in certain cases because of the way the current Traffic Law is written.

“[In some cases] police officers do not have the power to seize those bikes … and the bikes we take possession of, we cannot destroy them,” Mr. Byrne said. “We want the power to seize and destroy illegal motorbikes.”

Cayman law currently does not allow unlicensed, unregistered vehicles of any sort to be used on the road, but there is an outstanding legal question of whether those vehicles could be made street legal with modifications.

In 17 traffic prosecutions pursued by the RCIPS last year involving unregistered or illegally operated motorbikes, the vehicles had to be given back to the owners in at least five instances because no offense was ultimately detected, according to records obtained by the Cayman Compass.