ELK GROVE -- Friends of a motorcyclist killed on a stretch of Highway 99 between Elk Grove and Galt this weekend are blaming his death on drivers slowing to look at wreckage of a train derailment.
While trains can now travel on those tracks, several box cars are still piled along its side, possibly distracting drivers.
Saturday, Ron Schneider was taking what was supposed to be a motorcycle joy ride with his friend Daniel Gregson, as well as several other motorcyclists.
"We're riding down southbound 99 ... There's a train crossing that goes over the freeway and we're coming up, you know we can see traffic slowing in front of us, and it's not stopping, so we're slowing down," Schneider told FOX40.
But the group of bikers didn't slow down fast enough.
"It was just an abrupt, no time to stop you know traffic just stopped in front of us," said Schneider.
Gregson and several of the other riders couldn't avoid colliding with the stopped cars and trucks.
"You know, he tried to slow down, the bike skid for a good while before he ran into the back of the truck," Schneider said.
Gregson did not survive. He left behind a wife and three children.
"(He was) just a happy fun-loving guy," Schneider told FOX40.
Officially the California Highway Patrol said the accident is a result of southbound traffic on Highway 99 coming to an almost sudden stop. The reason for that slow down is something officers can't say for sure. But Schneider believes leftover wreckage from a February 10 train derailment is why there was such bad backup.
"People were slowing down looking off to the side, because it was farther up, and it just trickled down to where everybody just stopped," Schneider told FOX40.
FOX40 asked Union Pacific when those box cars might be cleaned up, but the train company has not yet released a timetable.
Meanwhile, Schneider wants to warn all drivers to be mindful of motorcyclists.
"It's starting to be a lot better weather and there's going to be a lot of bikes out on the road and you know, just look twice," Schneider told FOX40.
Saturday, March 4, Schneider plans to hold a car wash to help Gregson's family at 6730 Rio Linda Boulevard in Rio Linda.
Donations to Gregson's family can also made at: https://www.gofundme.com/3fk65zs