STURGIS, S.D. (AP) — The total number of traffic fatalities for this year's Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota may be higher than the state's official count of four, according to a newspaper.
The Rapid City Journal counted at least nine deaths associated with the rally. The newspaper determined that five deaths happened either just before the rally or outside the state, in addition to the official tally of four traffic fatalities.
The South Dakota Highway Patrol's official count only includes traffic deaths that happened within the western part of the state during the first Saturday morning of the rally through the final Sunday morning. The patrol doesn't count fatalities that occur in eastern South Dakota or outside the Aug. 4-12 rally period.
"That way we keep our numbers consistent," said Tony Mangan, a spokesman for the patrol.
Determining whether an individual was headed to or from the rally when an accident occurs outside of the patrol's count method is difficult and often impossible, Mangan said. But he acknowledged that there are deaths not included in the count that may be associated with the rally.
Authorities said two of this year's rally-related traffic deaths resulted from motorcyclists running a stop sign. The newspaper found that two fatalities resulted from motorcyclists pulling over near the side of a highway and four resulted from motorcyclists and a driver failing to negotiate curves in a road. One fatality occurred after the driver of a vehicle pulled in front of a trike-style motorcycle.
Alcohol is under investigation as a factor in some of the accidents, according to Mangan.
One of the victims was from South Dakota, while seven were from out of state and one was from Canada, the newspaper found.
Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com