Bikers ride the Hills from here

Ron Burtz
Monday of motorcycle rally week was a bad one for bikes and their drivers in and around Custer State Park (CSP). At least half a dozen motorcycle wrecks and other traffic incidents Monday afternoon resulted in a busy few hours for the Custer County Sheriff’s Office, S.D. Highway Patrol, CSP  rangers, Custer County Search and Rescue (SAR) and Custer other ambulance services. 
The first incident was a single motorcycle crash involving a 56-year-old Green Bay, Wis., man just east of the Galena French Creek Divide on Hwy. 16A in the park. The accident was called into Custer County Dispatch at 1:53 p.m. and within seconds multiple units from various agencies responded. 
Custer County Sheriff Marty Mechaley headed out from his office at the courthouse, as well, leading the Custer Ambulance and threading a path through dozens of motorcycles and other vehicles. 
At the scene, the injured man lay on the roadside where he was attended to by law enforcement officers and EMTs. His motorcycle lay on its side a few feet away up a roadside embankment and personal items were scattered about. 
Mechaley speculated the driver had been going too fast around the curve and lost control. A second motorcycle also wrecked in an apparent attempt to avoid the first accident, but there were no serious injuries resulting from that crash. 
After helping to get the critically-injured man loaded into the ambulance, Mechaley headed back toward Stockade Lake where he was met by SAR volunteers to set up a landing zone for a Black Hills Life Flight helicopter launched from Rapid City at 2:15 p.m. 
Within minutes the chopper landed at Gordon Stockade parking area on the shore of the lake. 
Medical technicians from the helicopter headed for the ambulance to prepare the patient for transport and reportedly had to resuscitate him in the ambulance. 
CSP seasonal ranger Blair Waite, who was on scene, reported that this was the sixth injury motorcycle wreck in the park since Friday, but was so far the most serious. He also reported that a buffalo cow had charged a biker when the motorcycle got too close to the animal and that a herd of about 500 buffalo had stopped traffic on Hwy. 16A for nearly an hour as they made their annual migration to graze along Iron Mountain Road. 
By 3:05 p.m., the patient was stabilized and loaded on the chopper for the short trip to Monument Hospital in Rapid City. 
With the patient safely on his way to the hospital and the accident scene under the control of the Highway Patrol, Mechaley headed back to his office. As he walked through the door, dispatch was just putting out a report of another injury motorcycle crash, this one on Wildlife Loop Road. Mechaley reported the injured rider was a 49- year-old Oklahoma woman. The nature and extent of her injuries was not stated in the dispatch logs.
Following another non-injury crash on Wildlife Loop Road, an hour later at 4:44 p.m. two people received minor injuries in a motorcycle wreck on Needles Highway.
Then at 5:08 p.m., a motorcycle crash at mile marker 40.5 on Iron Mountain Road resulted in Life Flight being called out a second time. Mechaley said the victim, a 52-year- old Boise, Idaho, man, received a serious head injury and was flown to Rapid City for treatment. Mechaley said charges are pending against the man. 
In the midst of all the chaos and with deputies and other law enforcement officers tied up at other wrecks, Mechaley answered a call to Hood Tunnel on Hwy. 89 north of Sylvan Lake where a class C motorhome pulling a car on a dolly was stopped by the low clearance of the tunnel as it attempted to go toward the lake. 
Mechaley had to use the loud speaker on his patrol vehicle to clear traffic from the roadway to get the motorhome backed down the hill toward a spot where it could be safely turned around. He estimates that traffic consisted mostly of at least 400 bikes attempting to pass through the tunnel. 
The final crash of the day happened at 8:41 p.m. on Hwy. 385 in Wind Cave National Park when a 59- year-old Milliken, Colo., biker struck a buffalo. The rider was injured, but the buffalo walked away.
Mechaley reported at 11 a.m. Tuesday that another injury motorcycle crash had just occurred in the county. 

User login