Aug 19, 2015

British couple injured Friday, Star Valley man died Monday in motorcycle crashes on Beartooth Highway

A Wyoming motorcyclist died in a crash on the Beartooth Highway and his passenger was hospitalized with injuries on Monday afternoon. It was the highway's second significant motorcycle wreck in four days, as a couple from Great Britain were injured in a Friday morning crash.

Matthew S. Wickel, 50, of Thayne, died at the scene of Monday's incident and passenger Dawn Patterson, 58, of Grand Blanc, Michigan, had to be flown to a hospital.

The Beartooth Highway. File photo courtesy Ben Townsend under CC-BY
That crash occurred at 2:50 p.m., approximately 5 miles south of the Montana border (near milepost 30) on U.S. Highway 212, said a news release from the Wyoming Highway Patrol.

Wickel was riding his 2002 Harley-Davidson west, amid rain and snow. Wickel lost control of the motorcycle, crossed the centerline, left the highway on the south side and went down a small hill, the Highway Patrol said.

Wickel and Patterson were both thrown from the motorcycle. A medical helicopter flew Patterson to a Billings hospital.

Neither Wickel nor Patterson was wearing a helmet, the patrol said. The agency said it's investigating speed and weather as contributing factors in the crash.

In Friday morning's incident, Christopher M. Higgins, 71, and his wife, Susan J. Higgins, 63, were injured after he failed to make a hairpin turn, the Park County Sheriff's Office said in a news release.

The crash was reported at 11:12 a.m. Friday, the sheriff's office said.

The British couple, riding a three-wheeled 2011 Harley-Davidson, had been about five miles north of the Beartooth Highway's junction with the Chief Joseph Highway (near milepost 15). Witnesses told the sheriff's office that Higgins was headed south, when he didn't make a right-hand curve. The Higginses went off the left side of the road, down a steep embankment and onto a boulder field about 20 yards away.

Higgins and his wife, who were both wearing helmets, were taken to West Park Hospital.

An ambulance from the hospital, as well as Park County sheriff's deputies, the Cody volunteer fire department, an ambulance from Cooke City, Montana, and a ranger from Yellowstone National Park had all responded to the scene.

Wickel's death marked the 92nd highway fatality in Wyoming for 2015. There were 97 highway fatalities as of the same date last year.


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