FAIRBANKS, ALASKA - Alaska State Troopers are investigating whether a Seattle man who collided with two Nenana bicyclists fell asleep during a grueling cross-country Harley-Davidson race.
Troopers said Vik Livingston, 53, collided with Andy Hutten, 50, and Karen Schaad, 22, on Wednesday on Parks Highway, about 50 miles outside of Fairbanks.
Hutten escaped the crash with a cut on his leg. Schaad suffered a chipped vertebrae and a cracked pelvis. Both also had a lot of road rash
“I feel really, really lucky,” Schaad said. “It could be much worse. I’m glad I can walk.”
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Livingston was on the last leg of an 8,000-mile motorcycle race billed as the Iditarod of Harley-Davidsons, starting in Key West, Fla., and ending in Homer, Alaska.
The Fairbanks Daily News- Miner reports that crash occurred on a spot on the highway that is a long straightaway.
Livingston wound up in Fairbanks Memorial Hospital with cracked ribs, a broken clavicle and a punctured lung. He said he swerved out of the way of a car that suddenly braked in front of him.
“All I can remember is I came around the car, and there were two bicyclists there,” Livingston said by phone from his hospital bed. “I was thinking, ‘What in the world are they doing out here?’ ”
But Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said there weren’t any signs Livingston swerved or braked until after he hit the first cyclist, which is consistent with accidents in which drivers fall asleep.
“That’s a possibility,” Peters said. “We still need to conduct interviews. It’s too soon to know what caused it and why.”
The Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge has been marred with a rider’s death, several accidents and accusations from participants that it is badly organized, the newspaper reported.
Nearly 800 participants started in Florida on June 20, and they must follow a specific course, down to exact streets, to be eligible for the grand prize, $500,000 in gold.
One man died participating in Wyoming after he evidently fell asleep while riding. At least six other crashes have been reported.
Some riders have said the race is impossible to finish with the required course. Participants paid $1,000 to enter.
The first two racers, Frank Kelly, of Prosperity, S.C., and Will Barclay, of Highland, Fla., arrived in a tie in Homer on Monday, finishing the 8,482-mile course in 190 hours.
About 200 riders have finished the race, said Doug Chambers, sales manager at the Farthest North Outpost, which served as the final checkpoint.