Rally Keeps Cops Busy Opening Weekend, But No Major Problems


      Law enforcement officials say the first few days of this year’s Sturgis Motorcycle Rally have been among the busiest they’ve seen. 

      Some 700,000 people are expected to celebrate their enthusiasm for motorcycles at the 10-day event that kicked off Friday and runs through this coming Sunday.

      Meade County Sheriff Ron Merwin says his office handled 30% more first day cases than last year while Sturgis Police Chief Geody VanDewater says calls on Friday were about double a year ago.

     VanDewater says the biggest issue has been open container violations with 207 citations issued on Friday. 

     The Sturgis City Council passed an ordinance essentially turning the downtown area into a beer garden. The problem is that a special souvenir cup is required while most people cited were drinking from cans, bottles, and plastic cups. 

      The South Dakota Highway Patrol didn’t start its daily Rally Tally reports until Saturday and its numbers for DUI arrests, drug cases, and total citations all below last year.  

       There were 221 total citations in the Patrol’s Rapid City district compared to 226 last year DUI arrests on Saturday down from 26 to 20. Misdemeanor drug arrests fell from 41 to 15 and felony drug arrests from 17 to 4. Total warnings did go up from 508 to 493

      The Patrol was busy with accidents on Saturday, tallying 9 injury accidents and 1 fatality – 3 fewer accidents than a year ago, which had no opening weekend deaths.

.     This time, a 36-year old woman was killed just before noon when she lost control of her motorcycle on Interstate 90 a mile west of Wall, hit the guardrail, and was thrown from her bike. She was not wearing a helmet and died at the scene. 

     There were 2 motorcycle deaths in separate accidents within an hour of each other around noon on Friday, one near Hill City and the other south of Sturgis, but those aren’t part of the Highway Patrol Rally Tally.