After Son’s Death, Mother Pushes for Baltimore City Dirt Bike Park

by: Lisa Snowden-McCray Special to The AFRO
/ (Photo by Lisa Snowden-McCray) /
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Kimberly Rouse-Smith and a picture of her son, who was killed in a dirt bike accident. (Photo by Lisa Snowden-McCray)

When Council Member William “Pete” Welch introduced legislation calling for the construction of a dirt bike park at last month’s Baltimore City Council meeting, he brought Baltimore mother Kimberly Rouse-Smith with him.

The park, Welch said, would be a way of keeping dirt-bike enthusiasts off city streets, giving them a safer way to ride. As a potential venue for dirt bike competition, Welch said, it might even bring in revenue for the city.

Rouse-Smith is intimately connected to this issue. Her son, 21-year-old Ka’re Smith, died in a dirt bike accident in July.

Ka’re was hit by a car at North Avenue and Smallwood Street. Rouse-Smith says she was told that her son had a yellow light and that the other passenger was speeding. The force of the accident, she said, sent him flying head-first into some concrete steps.

“My child’s ear was gone. Both legs broken. Hole in his head, neck broke. He never regained consciousness,” Rouse-Smith said. Ka’re died two days later.

Rouse-Smith said that she worried about her son’s dirt bike hobby. He did not wear a helmet, but she thinks that if he had, he may still be alive today.

Dirt bike riding, which has long been controversial in Baltimore, has recently resurfaced as an issue. In August, heavily armed officers clashed with riders at Druid Hill Park. Police have also increased their presence on Reisterstown Road, where dirt bikers are known to ride. On Aug. 30, a 16-year-old Baltimore boy was injured when his dirt bike was struck by a police cruiser during a chase.

Rouse-Smith said she agrees with Welch that the park would make the situation safer for everyone. She said that she knows that the plan has a long way to go and a lot of red tape to break through. Even so, she wants to remain positive that city officials can make something happen.

“I am very hopeful that something will be done but you know it all boils down to money. Keep it real it all boils down to money,” she said.

Lofty Nathan, the filmmaker behind the critically-acclaimed {12 O’Clock Boys}, a  documentary about Baltimore’s dirt bike riders, agrees with Welch’s plan.

“There is an element of sport and recreation with dirt bike riding that could be translated to something sanctioned. Not even supported – just contained and allowed. Just try it. If it doesn’t work, shut it down,” he said.

Rouse-Smith said that as a mother, she was both frightened and amazed by her son’s habit.

“He started doing tricks on them. It scared me to death but it was beautiful to watch him. I know I can’t get up there and pop wheelies and hold them up for a long period of time, but he did that.”

“He was like ‘you don’t understand, you just don’t understand,’ and he’s right I don’t. I don’t understand. But I respect the fact that that was his passion.”

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