Tragic mishap claims life

Published 9:27 am Tuesday, October 21, 2008

WINTON – Two separate, but related, motor vehicle accidents near here late Sunday night resulted in a tragic death.

Bruce David “BJ” Jatko II, 31, of Winton, was traveling east on Hwy. 158 just outside of Winton on his Harley Davidson motorcycle Sunday night when he struck a deer.

“That caused him to lose control and overturn in the roadway,” stated Sergeant M.W. Warren of the North Carolina Highway Patrol (Troop A, District II).

Warren, who was on the scene after the accidents, added, “The motorcycle slid on the right side and came to rest in the middle of the road. Mr. Jatko came to rest in the eastbound lane.”

He continued, “At that point an 18-wheeler pulled over to help and was on the shoulder of the road with its lights on. Another man driving a car had just left work at the prison in Winton, and didn’t know what was in the road… he thought the lights were somebody passing in the opposite direction… so he ran over Mr. Jatko, but then stopped and got out and saw what had happened.”

Jatko was taken to Roanoke-Chowan Hospital by ambulance and then transported via Nightingale helicopter to Sentara (Norfolk General) Hospital in Virginia, but was pronounced dead at 2:43 a.m.

Warren told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald that according to the Virginia medical examiner, Jatko suffered numerous injuries and broken bones that contributed to his death, including head injuries thought to have been sustained in the initial road impact following the collision with the deer.

Jatko was wearing a helmet, but Warren noted it was not DOT (Department of Transportation)-certified.

“When riding a motorcycle, all helmets are supposed to have a DOT sticker on them. There was not one anywhere on this helmet… it was the flimsiest-looking helmet you have ever seen. It’s just a horrible, tragic situation all around,” Warren stated.

The identity of the man driving the passenger car that struck Jatko was not available as of press time Monday, but Warren says an investigation is ongoing.

“We don’t expect any charges to be brought, but it is still under investigation until we can put all the pieces of the puzzle together,” he said.

The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald will have more information as it becomes available.