OFF THE WIRE
CODY DUTY : CHRONICLE BOOST: Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski said the large number of motorcyclists gathered on the island the past few days provided a shot in the arm for the local economy. Photo: Cody Duty / © 2011 Houston Chronicle
Three motorcyclists were killed in separate accidents during the Lone Star Motorcycle Rally in Galveston, which drew up to 500,000 bikers to the island over the weekend.
In the first accident at 3:50 p.m. Friday, a Houston man was injured when his 2003 Yamaha struck a school bus broadside, pinning him beneath the bus in the 1200 block of 26th Street, Galveston police said.
The cyclist, Guy Dale Stratton, 51, was taken to John Sealy Hospital, where he remained in critical but stable condition late Sunday, a hospital administrator said.
Police said that Stratton may have failed to stop at a stop sign when the accident occurred and that he was not wearing a helmet.
At 10 p.m. Friday, a man and a woman died when the 2011 Harley-Davidson they were riding on crashed on the feeder road of Interstate 45 in Galveston, police said. Witnesses said the motorcycle was traveling at a high rate of speed when the driver struck a curb and lost control, according to reports. A 34-year-old male and a 27-year-old female were pronounced dead at the scene. Their identities were withheld until family could be notified.
They were not wearing helmets, police said.
Shortly after 10 p.m. Saturday, Mathew Taylor, 19, was killed when his 1994 Yamaha motorcycle collided with a pickup at 51st Street and Harborside Drive, police said.
Taylor was westbound on Harborside and entered the eastbound lanes to avoid traffic when he collided with a 1985 Chevrolet truck, reports show. Witnesses said the biker was traveling at a high rate of speed when the crash occurred. The driver of the pickup was taken to UTMB-Galveston as a precaution, police said.
Two-wheel enthusiasts from across the nation were on the island for four days of partying, camaraderie, music, group activities and constant parading along the Strand to show off their motorcycles.
Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski called the rally an overall success, notwithstanding the accidents. He estimated that half-a-million bikers attended this year's event.
"Any time there's a loss of life it's a tragedy," he said. "You're talking about an inherently dangerous occupation - driving on these motorcycles. More (use of) helmets would definitely help."
Boost to local economy
Jaworski took part in a Lone Star Motorcycle Rally parade and got plenty of thumbs-up, high-fives and "thank yous," he said.
"There was a real feeling of joy downtown," Jaworski said. "Any time you have large events like this, there will be pros and cons. The weather was good and the overall sentiment was that this was a good trademark for Galveston."
The rally was also a spark for the local economy, he said.
"I could see lots of people gassing up at our gas stations, staying in our hotels and purchasing things within the (The Strand Historical) District and all over the island," Jaworski said. "The city will benefit from the sales tax on those items."
Galveston police investigated several disturbances and made some arrests for disorderly conduct and public intoxication, but no details were available Sunday.