Ben Joseph “Joey” Brush, Jr., a former Georgia lawmaker who spent much of his legislative career attempting to repeal motorcycle safety laws, died on Thursday after crashing his motorcycle just outside of Augusta.
The 59-year-old Brush sustained his fatal injuries when a car allegedly driven by Kimberly Chere Crouch, 49, pulled into an intersection while apparently failing to see Brush approaching on his Harley-Davidson.
Crouch was charged Friday with second-degree vehicular homicide and failing to stop at a stop sign.
According to authorities, Crouch was driving north on Louisville Road when she came to the intersection with Columbia Road in the the Columbia County area. Crouch stopped, police said, but then pulled out just as Brush drove into the intersection along Columbia.
Whether or not Brush was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident was not revealed. But what is known is that Brush was a staunch opponent of motorcycle helmet laws.
“Our state lost a noble Georgian today. Senator Joey Brush was not only a fierce advocate for conservative values in the Georgia legislature but was also a great friend,” Georgia Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle said. “He will be deeply missed and his legacy will not be forgotten.”
Serving two terms each in the Georgia state house and senate between 1992 and 2004, the Republican Brush chaired the Senate Education Committee and was also involved in energy issues as part of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council.
But his critics said that he devoted too much of his own energy to his pet cause — repealing the Georgia law requiring motorcycle riders to wear helmets.
As a legislator, Brush was never able to pass his bill to repeal the helmet law.
A study by the University of Southern California has shown that wearing a helmet is the single most effective way to prevent or minimize head and neck injuries in motorcycle accidents — which claim about 2,200 lives per year and cause 55,000 more injuries.
The leading cause of fatalities in motorcycle crashes is head injury. Riders who fail to wear a helmet are 40 percent more likely to die from a head injury in a crash than those who do.
Even after leaving the state legislature, Joey Brush — a father of four, and grandfather of six — never gave up on his efforts to loosen motorcycle safety laws. As a lobbyist, he was instrumental in passing a bill during Georgia’s most recent legislative session which would allow motorcycle riders to run red lights after coming to a full stop — as if the red light was a stop sign — under certain circumstances.
[Image: Joey Brush Campaign Photo]