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Paralyzed champion rider left to wonder what impact his legendary exploits had on nephew’s death

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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FORESTHILL -- Motorcycle crash victim Dustin “Bo” Dean was buried today in Michigan Bluff, leaving his uncle, Danny “Magoo” Chandler to wonder how much the stories of his own daredevil exploits contributed to his death. Known as one of the boldest riders of his era, Chandler was a top American Motorcycle Association and world-championship motorcross racer in the 1980s before crashing at the Paris Super Cross in 1985. Paralyzed since then, Chandler now shares his story in talks with young riders and emphasizes safety. The California Highway Patrol reported Dean, 28, wore no helmet as he rode late at night on a Foresthill street. He had no light on his trail bike and no street lights to guide him. He crashed into a parked trailer at an estimated 50-60 mph. A Colfax resident, Chandler said he remained close to his sister’s youngest child and will miss him. But he also reflected on what might have been different if Dean had been steered toward a safer course before the March 16 crash. “He had to live up to the legend,” Chandler said. “I’m crying now. He loved that motorcycle but he paid the price.” Under California law, Dean was illegally riding without lights and a helmet. The trailer he crashed into was parked legally and had the necessary reflectors, the Highway Patrol reported. The collision took place just east of the Foresthill Veterans Memorial Hall on Harrison Street, a block from the community’s main business district. “We’d all ride at night and we would talk about it,” Chandler said. “You learn to read the trees but right where it happened is a heavy overgrowth. He went into a black hole and misjudged the edge of the trailer.” Moments earlier, a Placer County Sheriff’s deputy had watched Dean ride past. Dena Erwin, a spokeswoman for the department, said the officer and his K-9 unit dog stepped out of the vehicle because dog had to urinate – not because a stakeout was taking place. Chandler said that if his nephew saw the officer, he would have likely turned his head and tried to throttle down. Chandler grew up in Foresthill and by the late-1970s, was making money as a 16-year-old pro rider. An intimidating rider, he was known to jump over lead riders rather than go around them. Two of his sisters raced and his father was an early Enduro and Scrambler racer. Dean was a young man who loved to hunt, shoot and ride, Chandler said. A makeshift memorial had been set up at the site of the crash that included flowers, candles, a photo of Dean and beverage containers. “I feel so bad,” Chandler said. “We laughed and joked about the things we did growing up and he would be hearing it. I feel guilty as hell about it.” Dean was remembered at a memorial service on Friday in Foresthill as a “free spirit” who loved to ride his dirt bike. “There’s a cautionary tale,” Chandler said. “We’re telling stories and young ones pick up on it. And then they try to live up to it. That tape recorder is always running and we have to be careful.”