While they admit it's somewhat macabre, a Black Hills family and their friends say they mean no harm with the betting pool they run on how many bikers will die during the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally.
A short time before the rally starts, the group gathers, and each pulls a number randomly out of a hat, and whoever is closest to the number of dead bikers wins the pool. This year, 12 people put in $5 each and the winner will take home $60.
"That’s the thing, we know they are going to die, it’s a fact of life," said Carol Landrum, 62, who travels from Arkansas every summer to her family's cabin in the Black Hills. "We hate that anybody does die, but we know it’s going to happen."
The pool is a tradition for them, started about seven years ago based on an idea from her husband's friend. That friend later died in a motorcycle accident himself, Landrum said.
"It was a joke initially," she said. "It’s just kind of a way for us to get through rally and be good humored about it."
Landrum, a retired physician assistant, said she's seen the aftermath of tragic accidents.
"It’s not meant in any way to be malicious, or hoping anyone has a bad accident," she said.
Most of the family is pretty low-key about the death count during rally week, but Carol does go online to keep tabs on the deaths, said her husband, William.
A few neighbors who were skeptical have since gotten over their initial moral objections and now join in on the pool, said William, 63.
"The first time, they kind of roll their eyes," he said.
With 12 people in this year, they can only pick from one to 12. Zero is not an option.
"Unfortunately, that's always going to lose," William said. For somebody out there, "it's their time," he said.
They are still deciding who will walk with the $60 as they settle on the final count, which was either three or four. They base the final results on the state Department of Public Safety "Rally Tally" that records deaths from the first Saturday of the rally until the final Sunday.