It took just over one day for this year’s 82nd Sturgis Motorcycle Rally to register its first traffic fatality.
The South Dakota Highway Patrol says this year’s fatality occurred when two motorcycles collided just before 11:00 Saturday morning in the central part of the state about 18 west of Hayes on Hwy 34.
The Patrol says both bikes were westbound when one slowed down and was hit from behind by the other. The 58-year old rider who’d slowed died later at Monument Health in Rapid City.
The 68-year old other rider sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was taken by ambulance to the hospital in Philip. Neither man was wearing a helmet.
One fatality by 6:00 Sunday morning matches last year, but the overall number of injury accidents is less than half – 4 compared to 9 – while the 8 non-injury accidents is double last year’s count.
As for other numbers, there had been 23 DUI arrests as of 6:00 AM Sunday, 3 more than last year, while felony drug arrests doubled from 4 to 8. Misdemeanor drug arrests slipped from 17 to 16.
All told, the Highway Patrol issued 25 fewer citations with 196 but nearly 200 more warnings – 706 compared to 508.
Law enforcement officials across South Dakota and in Nebraska, Wyoming, and South Dakota’s other neighbors are reminding drivers to stay alert to the added traffic generated by the Rally, especially the sometimes hard-to-see motorcycles.
Opening weekend attendance counts haven’t been released yet. Last year’s Rally drew an estimated 550,000 visitors, the second-largest crowd in the past 20 years, and officials see no reason that this year’s total shouldn’t be at least as big or bigger.