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MAN WHOSE NAME STARTS WITH `K’ MIGHT HELP SOLVE ACCIDENT PUZZLE

SHARE MAN WHOSE NAME STARTS WITH `K’ MIGHT HELP SOLVE ACCIDENT PUZZLE

There were no witnesses to the accident that left Jeff Young and the passenger on his motorcycle, Vince Caruso, badly injured when they collided with a van in Big Cottonwood Canyon 20 months ago.

But Jeff is now anxious to meet another motorcycle rider whose name begins with "K".Both boys, seniors at Brighton High School at the time, were flown to Salt Lake hospitals after the April 29, 1988, accident. "My son was not expected to live when he was picked up," said Arlo Young, Jeff's father. "His leg was so badly mangled that they said he would not be able to keep his leg."

Neither Jeff nor Vince wore helmets, and both suffered head injuries. Neither of them had any memory of the accident later.

The absence of a disinterested witness has left several liability questions about the accident unsolved during the time Jeff spent in a hospital bed while recovering from brain surgery and numerous operations aimed at saving his right leg.

Insurance has covered most of the $150,000 or so in medical expenses. Jeff's mangled Yamaha still sits in the yard at the side of the house. The lawyers said not to get rid of it as long as there is still some question about liability.

One new reason the Youngs are interested in preserving evidence of the crash has to do with a man in his mid to late 30s who tried selling his Honda 450 to a store clerk, Mick Frisbey, at the 7-Eleven at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon just two months ago.

Mick and Jeff grew up in the same neighborhood. Mick was aware of Jeff's accident and told the customer at the 7-Eleven he wasn't much interested in buying a motorcycle because of what had happened to his friend.

"I saw a scary accident two years ago," Mick said the customer told him. Mick can't remember for sure, but "He had a `K' name - Ken or Kent or Kenney."

"He said the sight was so sickening that he couldn't look," Mick remembers the man telling him. But the man said he had a passenger on his motorcycle that had been a paramedic in the Marines. The passenger had helped Vince at the scene before other help arrived.

If Kenney (or Kent or Ken or what ever his name is), was telling a straight story, there not only was a witness to the accident, but there were two witnesses. And his story indicates the driver of the van that hit Jeff may have been at fault.

The stocky, rugged-looking man with dark hair and a mustache told Mick he'd moved out of his house recently and was living in the canyon for the time being. He didn't have a permanent address or a phone, but he said he would come back to the store the next day so the two could call Jeff. Mick knew Jeff would want to talk to the man.

But he didn't come back.

"We put signs in the windows of the 7-Eleven offering a reward for information leading to his identity," said Jeff's father. "They say he's a local - he rides a motorcycle with a leopard skin seat cover."

The bike also has a red gas tank, Mick remembers.

With the damage done, why are the Youngs so interested in finding someone who may have seen the accident?

"I would like to clear it up in Jeff's mind that he was not at fault, that he was not doing anything wrong or that he could not have avoided the accident," said the elder Young.

If they could prove the other driver was at fault, "We would like to get something for Jeff for the suffering he has gone through," the elder Young said. "He has gone through a tremendous amount of pain and anguish and discouragement. We think it would be a good psychological lift for him to find an eyewitness."

Jeff said he's left the legal issues to his father. "I don't care about the liability, I just want to know what really happened."

Medical procedures will continue in the coming months in an effort to increase the mobility in Jeff's leg. A rod that runs from his hip to his knee is scheduled to be removed near the end of the year. Sometime later he'll have another operation on his knee, the elder Young said.

All the while they'll be hoping to hear from the man whose name begins with "K".