Lighting ’em up: Sundance sees big rally crowd, few rally-related problems

Chuck Woods waves a flag during his burnout on Wednesday downtown. Woods’ performance, highlighted by orange tire smoke, wowed the crowd and earned him this year’s burnout championship. In addition to a spirited group of competitors at this year’s event, the burnout platform even played host to a local couple’s wedding. Although official numbers of attendees are not kept, officials and visitors noted this year’s crowd was thought to be among the largest ever in Sundance during the rally.

Chuck Woods waves a flag during his burnout on Wednesday downtown. Woods’ performance, highlighted by orange tire smoke, wowed the crowd and earned him this year’s burnout championship.
In addition to a spirited group of competitors at this year’s event, the burnout platform even played host to a local couple’s wedding.
Although official numbers of attendees are not kept, officials and visitors noted this year’s crowd was thought to be among the largest ever in Sundance during the rally.

By Sarah Pridgeon

 

Though more rally-goers arrived in Sundance for Wyoming Wednesday than in recent years, and the streets of Sundance were lined with motorcycles, it was a calm event for local law enforcement and emergency services. Elsewhere in Crook County and towards Sturgis, however, the week was more eventful.

A fatal crash occurred at milepost 29.9 of WYO 24 at 11:15 a.m. on Thursday, August 8. Lawrence D. Myers of Thorntown, Indiana, died after his motorcycle hit a deer.

Myers was traveling east when three deer crossed the highway in front of him. He was unable to prevent a collision and his motorcycle struck and killed one of the deer.

Losing control of the motorcycle, Myers went into a slide, colliding with the guardrail. He was ejected from the motorcycle and both he and the vehicle came to rest in the right lane of the highway.

71-year-old Myers was flown by helicopter to Rapid City Regional Hospital, where he died the following day.

State Troopers from Wyoming and South Dakota meanwhile worked together in a joint enforcement operation on I-90 during Wyoming Wednesday. A total of 24 arrests were made and 49 warnings issued between Sturgis and Sundance, as well as on portions of S.D. Hwy 34 and U.S. Hwy 212.

“Tank The Law Tiger” revs up the crowd during his burnout. (Jeff Moberg photos)

“Tank The Law Tiger” revs up the crowd during his burnout. (Jeff Moberg photos)

“The joint operation increased law enforcement coverage and visibility during a high traffic portion of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally,” says Captain Carl Clements of the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

The operation used a variety of messages via road signs to increase safe driving, focusing on speeding, drinking and driving and criminal interdiction. It was the first time the two jurisdictions have worked together for the enforcement effort and a total of 49 vehicles were stopped over the course of the day.

No DUI arrests were made, but the operation’s totals included three arrests and 11 warnings for speeding and seven arrests for possession of drugs. One arrest was made for Grand Theft possession of stolen property and, in addition, a stolen Colt 1911 stainless gun was seized, producing one weapons charge.

“The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is a busy time for law enforcement every year,” comments Captain Kevin Karley of the South Dakota Highway Patrol.

“The increase in traffic not only affects the Sturgis area, but our neighboring states see the increase too. This joint operation shows a cooperated partnership of South Dakota’s and Wyoming’s commitment to safe roads.”

In Sundance, however, Wyoming Wednesday was a more peaceful affair.

“It was pretty quiet and law-abiding,” says Undersheriff Tom Adams of Wyoming Wednesday in Sundance. “We had a respectable kind of crowd.”

Neither the Sheriff’s Office nor the Sundance Police Department made any arrests.

“It went well, there were no major incidents,” says Police Chief Todd Fritz. “It seemed like the numbers were up and we had a decent crowd, but everyone behaved.”

Rally Week was also business as usual for the emergency services, says EMS Director Ken Maston. There were no big bike crashes or other incidents during the event.

“This was about as good a Rally Week as can be, from our point of view,” says Adams.