Numbers stable, incidents up
By Sarah Pridgeon
Visitor numbers may have stayed relatively stable, but Sturgis Motorcycle Rally week in northeast Wyoming was unusually eventful this year. As well as two fatalities and eight serious injuries on the roads, a high number of arrests were made throughout the week.
“From my visuals in dealing with it, I would think we had the same amount of bikes [as recent years],” says Lieutenant Tim Boumeester.
Casualties, on the other hand, were up this year. From the morning of August 5 until midnight on Friday night, Wyoming Highway Patrol responded to eight serious injury crashes in Crook County and two in Weston County, says Boumeester.
Two took place on Hwy 85 from Four Corners north and the bulk of the rest occurred on Hwy 24 and the intersection of Hwy 111 and the I-90 service road.
On Wednesday, two fatalities occurred, both on the highway between Aladdin and Hulett and taking place within an hour of each other.
“The first one that happened was at milepost 32. The vehicle was eastbound, so heading towards Aladdin,” says Boumeester.
“In that area, the roadway is downhill with a left-hand curve. We don’t know what speed the individual was traveling at, but he was unable to negotiate that curve.”
The brakes locked up and the bike steered off the road. Though the motorcyclist tried to steer back onto the roadway, says Boumeester, he was unsuccessful and his bike slid sideways, tripped and rolled and threw its rider.
“The motorcycle rolled multiple times down the roadway and came to rest in the lane of travel. The driver came to rest off the right side of the roadway, next to the guard rail,” says the lieutenant.
“He was flown to Rapid City and later passed away there at the hospital.”
The accident happened at 1:50 p.m., followed shortly after at 2:39 p.m. by a second fatality on Highway 24 eastbound. The second rider was also negotiating a left hand curve.
“For unknown reasons, the vehicle drifted off the roadway and hit a patch of loose gravel on the paved portion of the shoulder,” says Boumeester.
“The driver lost control of the motorcycle. The motorcycle began to tumble and the driver separated from the motorcycle.”
The bike came to rest in the lane of travel and the rider in the ditch area. The driver was pronounced dead on scene.
Meanwhile, six arrests were made by Highway Patrol within Crook County during the week of rally. Two were for driving while under suspension, says Boumeester, while two were drug-related, one was a warrant arrest and another was for driving while under the influence.
As it included an assault on a peace officer, the DUI arrest involved felony charges. In one of the drug-related arrests, on the evening of August 11, 34 pounds of marijuana were seized on Hwy 212.
Meanwhile, says Sheriff Jeff Hodge, a total of 15 arrests were made by Crook County law enforcement for transgressions including drugs and driving under the influence. The arrests took place across the county, including three drug-related arrests and a knife assault in Sundance during the week; however, says Officer Dan Bush, no citations or arrests were made during the main Burnout Wednesday event.