STURGIS | Officially, the South Dakota Highway Patrol reports that three people died during this year's Sturgis motorcycle rally.
That looks super safe compared to the 15 people who died during the 75th anniversary rally. The rally statistics are compiled from 6 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 6, to 6 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 14, the same period of time used to gather stats during previous rallies.
But, when you take into consideration the accidents that happened in days leading up to the rally and immediately following in locations across South Dakota and the region, a total of 10 people died in accidents involving motorcycles in 2016.
On Sunday, one man died and another was injured in a two-motorcycle crash west of Presho. No matter when or where they happen, the rally-related deaths are tragic.
Here are the reported fatal accidents not only in the Black Hills but in the region during dates surrounding the Sturgis motorcycle rally this year:
• Aug. 12: Donald Keaton Jr., 60, Kansas City, Mo., died in a motorcycle crash on state Highway 79, four miles south of Newell. Keaton was driving a 2007 Harley-Davidson north when a deer ran into the roadway and collided with the motorcycle. The driver lost control and the motorcycle slid into the southbound lane where it was hit by a southbound 1999 Dodge Ram pickup. Keaton was pronounced dead at the scene.
• A fatal crash east of Lyman, Wyo., resulted in the death of 58-year-old Bradley Hansen from Center Junction, Iowa. The crash happened at 6:45 a.m. on Aug. 12 near mile post 48 on Interstate 80, about seven miles east of Lyman. Hansen was operating a 2014 Honda motorcycle while traveling east on I-80 in a construction zone. Hansen was wearing a helmet during the crash. He was taken by helicopter to the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he succumbed to his injuries.
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• An Aug. 11 fatal crash south of Riverton, Wyo., resulted in the death John Bass, 62, from Granby, Colo. Bass was operating a 2000 Harley-Davidson motorcycle while traveling north on Wyoming 135. The motorcycle left the highway to the east in a left hand curve in the highway, struck a post. The crash happened at 1:20 p.m. near mile post 24 on Wyoming Highway 135, about 25 miles south of Riverton.
• Paulette Sheridan, 68, Council Bluffs, Iowa, died in a two-vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 16, east of Hill City on Aug. 9. Sheridan was a passenger on a trike-style motorcycle that rear-ended a pickup which had stopped for traffic. She was thrown from the motorcycle and later died as a result of her injuries.
• That same day, a fatal crash west of Sundance, Wyo., resulted in the death of 59-year-old Saugus, Mass., resident Paul Conti. The crash occurred at 12:24 p.m. near mile post 189 on U.S. Highway 14, about 12 miles west of Sundance. Conti was operating a 1998 Harley-Davidson motorcycle traveling west on a left-hand curve when the motorcycle left the highway. After leaving the highway, Conti was thrown from the motorcycle and received fatal injuries.
• On Aug. 8, James Smith, 65, Concord, Calif., died in a one-motorcycle crash on U.S. Highway 14A, mile marker 49, three miles south of Sturgis. Smith was driving a motorcycle southwest down Boulder Canyon when he failed to negotiate a turn. The motorcycle entered the ditch and struck several rocks. He was thrown from the cycle and died at the scene; he was not wearing a helmet.
• On Aug. 4, on U.S. Highway 14A, mile marker 31, five miles west of Lead, Erick Johnson, 57, of Ramsey, Minn., was driving a Honda cycle eastbound when he lost control. The motorcycle entered the ditch and the driver struck a sign. Johnson was pronounced dead at the scene; he was not wearing a helmet.
• On Aug. 3, on Rochford Road two miles east of Rochford. Robert Center, 49, of Pekin, Ill., was driving a Harley-Davidson eastbound when he failed to negotiate a left turn. The motorcycle hit a guard rail and Center was thrown from the motorcycle. He was not wearing a helmet and was pronounced dead at the scene.
• On July 29, on U.S. Highway 212, at mile marker 68, 27 miles east of Newell, Dale Shull, 65, Sneads Ferry, N.C., died in a wreck. Shull was driving a 2010 Harley-Davidson eastbound on U.S. 212 when he lost control. The vehicle went into the ditch and hit an embankment. The driver was thrown from the motorcycle and was later pronounced dead at the scene. He was not wearing a helmet.