HASTINGS -- Corlissa Larsen is a mother of seven who prefers the quiet countryside, but not enough to arm herself with a pitchfork and threaten motorcyclists who roar past her home, her husband said.
Witnesses say differently, according to state police, who allege the 43-year-old stay-at-home mom drew back the pitchfork to swing at a passing motorcycle Sunday before she was struck and critically injured by a bike.
The collision happened just before 6 p.m. in front of her rural home at 5401 Gun Lake Road as her husband and 6-year-old daughter, Liberty, watched.
"She's usually pretty peace-able," said her husband, Ben, who works at a dairy farm. "She's not the type to use a weapon, unless she absolutely had to, but only if a guy was coming at her. I don't think she took the pitchfork to attack them. It was to get their attention."
Ben Larsen said he and his wife have complained repeatedly to police about motorcycles that race down their rural road.
"We already talked to the cops about it," he said. "They said we can yell at them, wave, but we can't take a weapon down there, like we're going to attack them."
He said his son ran out to the road last year with a large stick to get the attention of bikers, but he never swung it.
Larsen said he and his wife were working in the yard Sunday when about a half-dozen cycles zipped past at speeds he estimated at 90 mph. He fears a collision whenever he pulls out of his driveway in the family's full-size van, he said.
"They were going so fast I couldn't even see them," he said. "They were just a blur."
Corlissa Larsen rushed to the road with the pitchfork when she heard a second group approaching, he said. "I've had enough of it. She had enough of it. She went out there."
State police said they have no evidence the second group was speeding.
Troopers said she ran into the middle of the road and drew back the pitchfork as if preparing to swing it. Police said they have received conflicting reports about whether she took a swing. The first bike drove past, but the second biker on a 1998 Kawasaki Ninja could not avoid her, troopers said.
Larsen said he believes his wife dropped the pitchfork at the edge of the road before she was hit. He said she didn't have time to react to the bike. "When she turned around, she was straddling the front tire," he said. "She turned and looked right at him."
She was struck by the bike, then by the driver, Trammell Toombs, 24, of Muskegon Heights. His helmet struck Corlissa Larsen on the head.
Larsen suffered head injuries, including swelling of the brain, and a broken eye socket, as well as a broken left arm and leg injuries, her husband said. She was in critical condition while the biker was in fair condition, both at Spectrum Health Butterworth Campus in Grand Rapids.
Larsen said he and his wife hope to move from the area. "She's basically a farm girl who would rather be out in the middle of nowhere, away from everybody," he said. "Our dream it to move to Kentucky."