As South Dakota’s annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally winded down Sunday, authorities reported four fatalities during the event. Spanning 10 days and nights, the rally serves as one of the biggest gatherings for motorcycle enthusiasts in the country.
However, such a large gathering of people means an increased chance of accidents and fatalities. Saturday morning, a 66-year-old man lost control of his motorcycle at the rally, hitting a curb and falling from his bike. The man lacked a helmet and authorities pronounced him dead shortly after at the scene.
Later the same day, a 51-year-old driver and his 46-year-old female passenger also experienced a crash. The driver failed to take a turn properly, throwing the two from the motorcycle. Though the driver only suffered non-life-threatening injuries, his passenger was not so lucky. Authorities pronounced her dead at the scene of the accident. Both passengers also lacked helmets.
Additionally, five other crashes occurred Saturday involving serious injury. The rally’s accident count totaled 60 by the end.
On a more sunny note, South Dakota Highway Patrol reported lower drug use and drunken driving rates compared to last year. In total, DUIs decreased 14% and misdemeanor drug charges dropped a whopping 34%. Felony drug arrests also declined 8%.
Conversely, warnings and citations increased. Warnings went up 23% and citations were up 20%.
It should be noted the decreased drug charges could be attributed to less enforcement of possessing small amounts of marijuana. Meade County Sheriff Ron Merwin noted his deputies were more flexible regarding minuscule amounts of the substance.
Despite COVID-19, The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Sported High Attendance
Accidents and arrests aside, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally saw strong attendance this year. It’s estimated 700,000 people showed up for the event. Quite the number considering the town’s population count equals roughly 7,000 normally. Ron Merwin stated there were more people there in the first few days than he’s seen in his entire career.
Because of its huge attendance, COVID-19 precautions were taken to help curb spreading the virus. The city allowed attendees to drink on public property. Authorities figured this would help keep crowds apart from one another, decreasing close proximity encounters.
Overall, the rally succeeded in drawing record attendance, despite the odds. Those curious about the rally should take a look at the enormous crowds that gathered for the final day.
Attendees frequently went for Black Hill rides while there, taking in the scenic forests and mountains. In fact, riding through the Black Hills served as one of the premier events of the rally.
One visitor notes if you’re interested, you should attend the rally and ride through the Black Hills as soon as possible since vendors left earlier than expected. Regardless, the event succeeded in bring motorcycle enthusiasts together, in spite of the pandemic.