South Sound sees wave of motorcycle wrecks

Staff writerJuly 4, 2013 


A motorcyclist is seen in a side mirror Wednesday in Olympia. Two riders were airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle this week; a third rider perished in Mason County. Safety officials encourage drivers and motorcycle riders to take care while taking to the streets this summer.

TONY OVERMAN — Staff photographer Buy Photo

When the weather heats up in the South Sound, more motorcycles hit the region’s streets and highways, and a result has been multiple tragedies.

There had already been one fatal motorcycle crash in Olympia in May. Two other riders this week were airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after being thrown from their bikes, and an Olympia woman was killed Wednesday in a crash on U.S. Highway 101 in Mason County.

Ryan D.C. Heggie, 23, died from blunt-force trauma to his head and torso after clipping the right bumper of a car turning into a driveway on Harrison Avenue in May. Police believed Heggie could have been speeding at the time of the crash.

Sarah L. Noble, 33, of Olympia was riding on Highway 101 near the Wallace Kneeland Boulevard exit when she collided with a car, according to the State Patrol. Noble, who was wearing a helmet, was pronounced dead at the scene Wednesday.

According to police, the accident occurred when a white 2006 Chevrolet Cobalt heading south passed another southbound vehicle in the northbound lane and collided with Noble’s yellow 1992 Honda VF750 motorcycle, which was heading north.

Two other recent crashes in Thurston County landed two men in Harborview, according to Thurston County Sheriff’s Lt. Greg Elwin.

The first crash was reported at 8:16 p.m. Sunday on Martin Way. A man was riding his motorcycle toward Martin Way from the south when he hit a curb and was thrown from his motorcycle.

He was flown to Harborview from the crash site.

Another motorcyclist crashed off Rainier Road about 9 p.m. Monday after going off a curve. He was taken to Providence St. Peter hospital in Olympia and later airlifted to Harborview.

“What’s interesting is some of the collisions we had earlier in the year were people running into motorcycles, but these last two (in Thurston County) were motorcycle riders either losing control of their bike or not paying attention and causing their own crashes,” Elwin said.

The Sheriff’s Office and Washington State Patrol routinely remind drivers to keep an eye out for motorcycles and increase following distances, especially in adverse road conditions.

Motorcycle collisions also are caused by rider error, especially early in the riding season.

“We always ask everyone to keep your eyes open for motorcycles and pay attention to those small targets out there, but it’s equally as important to remind all the riders, especially if you haven’t ridden in a while and are just dusting the bike off, to take it slow and easy and be aware of your surroundings,” Elwin said.

Motorcyclists are required by state law to take a motorcycle safety course to acquire a motorcycle endorsement.

“Riding a motorcycle takes skill, but as with anything, if you don’t practice, your skill level will diminish,” Washington State Trooper Guy Gill said. “I recommend all riders of all skill levels take a motorcycle safety course.”

Gill said the most common cause of motorcycle crashes the State Patrol investigates are excessive speed and rider impairment by alcohol or drugs.

Chelsea Krotzer: 360-754-5476

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