Bike builder in ‘motor pool,’ teaching others to weld
BY KEYONNA SUMMERS • FLORIDA TODAY
January 4, 2010 – (Motor Sports Newswire) – Celebrity motorcycle builder Billy Lane hasn’t lost his passion nor shed his “gearhead” persona while serving time in the state penitentiary.
A state prison spokeswoman says Lane, serving six years for a 2006 car crash that killed another biker, has spent the last four months using his mechanical skills at the Avon Park Work Camp to fix Department of Corrections vehicles as part of the “motor pool.”
Lane, 39, was sentenced in August to prison after pleading no contest to one count of vehicular homicide for crashing his pickup truck head-on into 56-year-old Sebastian Inlet Park ranger Gerald Morelock’s motorcycle while speeding past slow traffic in a no-pass zone on Sept. 4, 2006.
“It looks like he’s using his skills to help the state of Florida,” said corrections spokeswoman Jo Ellyn Rackleff.
In the meantime, the Melbourne Beach founder of Choppers Inc. has resolved his other legal problems surrounding the crash.
Court records show a civil suit filed last year by Erin Derrick — the passenger in Lane’s truck the night of the Labor Day 2006 crash — seeking compensation for hospital bills and suffering related to back injuries was settled through mediation.
The suit also held liable DaimlerChrysler, which provided the promotional vehicle to Lane despite his prior driving history.
Derrick’s attorney, Martin T. Buckley of Orlando, declined to comment on the suit or its resolution. Lane’s attorney, G. Jeffrey Vernis of North Palm Beach, did not return a call seeking comment.
A wrongful death suit brought against Lane and DaimlerChrysler by crash victim Morelock’s family was settled out of court in July 2007 for an undisclosed amount.
Greg Eisenmenger, Lane’s attorney in the criminal case, said he visited the prison work camp around early October to discuss filing a motion seeking a reduced sentence for Lane, claiming Morelock’s family thought Lane could do more good outside of prison.
A judge denied the motion, and Eisenmenger said no more are planned.
Lane has tried to turn the experience into a positive by helping other inmates learn how to weld, according to Eisenmenger.
“He’s adjusting as best he can,” Eisenmenger said. “They are allowing him to work in the shop, help other people and make good use of his time, so I think that’s a positive.”
Corrections spokeswoman Rackleff said inmates are assigned to facilities and work based on extensive mental and physical screens during reception.
She said Lane was immediately assigned to the “motor pool,” where his skills could be used.
Working doesn’t automatically equal gain time, Rackleff said. Instead good behavior earns that, and working is part of it.
Lane, placed in a minimum custody setting, has not been the subject of any disciplinary action, Rackleff said.
Eisenmenger said Lane is still willing to comply with a request Morelock’s family voiced at sentencing asking Lane to use his celebrity status to help save the lives of young people through a foundation they plan to create in Morelock’s name.
“While in prison, he’s not in a position to do that,” Eisenmenger said. “But it’s still his plan when he gets out.”
SOURCE: FLORIDA TODAY