Broken bones and missing half a finger

Councilman injured in motorcycle accident


Bayonne’s First Ward Councilman, Tommy Cotter, who represents the Bergen Point neighborhood, was injured in a motorcycle accident on Saturday, September 24, during an organized motorcycle touring event in the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania.
Cotter, who has represented the First Ward since being elected in 2014, was seven hours into a two-day, 280-mile course when he hit loose gravel around a turn, sending him to the ground and into a tree, breaking his femur, wrist, a few fingers, and even cutting off the tip of his ring finger. He underwent surgery that day and remains in physical therapy.
“When I lost control, I thought I would be able to ride through the woods and get back onto the road,” said Cotter from a hospital bed in western NJ where he was medivacked by helicopter. “Once you’re on the ground, you’re at the mercy of gravity. An object in motion stays in motion, until it hits a tree.”
Cotter’s brother, also attending the tour, went down immediately after Cotter, suffering a spinal injury.

“When something like this happens, you realize you’re not 15 anymore.” – Thomas Cotter


Cotter is in his tenth year attending the tour, where people ride 1960s- and ‘70s-era off-road motorcycles through back roads and dirt roads. Riders average about 20 miles per hour throughout the two-day tour, about the speed Cotter was traveling when he crashed. At the end of the tour, riders are rated on a series of attributes, such as agility, but not speed.
“When something like this happens, you realize you’re not 15 anymore,” Cotter said. “When we were younger we would crash and bounce back up and fix the bike the next day. It’s not that easy anymore.”
Cotter said that he will resume his councilman duties as soon as possible and plans to attend the October council meeting but will miss the ribbon-cutting for the new Brass Foundry building because he will be in physical therapy. For the time being, he is limited in his ability to meet with constituents and said that the city may need to refer his constituents temporarily to at-large council members Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski and Juan Perez.
“Always wear a helmet. That’s what saved me,” Cotter said. He said that without his $500 full-face helmet and protective riding gear, he would have been in much worse condition. Unlike in New Jersey, motorcycle riders in Pennsylvania are not required to wear helmets.
Cotter said that he plans to get back on the bike eventually. “A few broken bones won’t stop me,” he said. “The goal is to go back to being what you were. You don’t let an injury determine what you want to do.”

Rory Pasquariello can be reached at