Motorcycle Deaths Up 50% from this Time Last Year

Posted at: 07/26/2013 6:34 PM
Updated at: 07/26/2013 6:39 PM
By: Jenna Lohse

(ABC 6 News) -- We now know the name of the motorcyclist found in a Rochester ditch during rush hour yesterday morning. 35-year-old Jack Scaccio was killed when he lost control of his motorcycle exiting Highway 14 onto West Circle Drive.

A driver saw Scaccio's body and called 911 around 8 a.m. after seeing him lying in the ditch near a retention pond. A helmet was found at the scene, but police are not sure if he was wearing it at the time.

That marks the fourth motorcycle death in Southeast Minnesota just this week. Motorcycle fatalities in Minnesota are up 50 percent from where we were at this time last year, and half of those riders were not wearing helmets. But some people say that’s not the only factor.

You could say Dean Noonan has been test driving bikes since he was born.  

"I've been riding my whole life, I use to ride motor-cross and now of course I just cruise," said Dean Noonan.

While he's wearing a helmet for this test drive, Dean admits to not always wearing protection on his Harley Davidson.

"It messes my hair," said Noonan.

Many bikers have the same thought. Of the 37 fatalities this year, more than half were not wearing a helmet. But Dean says that's not the only factor.

"Most accidents are really caused by rider error, some of the bikes now are so fast that un-experienced riders get on those bikes," said Noonan.

"We have been seeing a multitude of injuries but head injuries are one of the big ones that we do see," said Todd Emanuel, with the Mayo Clinic Trauma Center.

Todd Emanuel, with the Trauma Center at Saint Marys Hospital, says the center has seen close to 70 motorcyclists come in with critical head injuries this year, an increase from past years.

"It doesn't take much of a blow to impact, even if there isn't an actual fracture in the skull," said Emanuel.

"Got a nice big old scratch here, scratch here busted the shield," said Joe Burkhard, describing his helmet.

Joe Burkhard bought two new helmets on Friday, because his old one saved him from serious injuries.

"I was going around a corner and slid and bonked my head," said Burkhard.

For Dean Noonan, wearing a helmet is the smart way to go, but that doesn't give bikers free range on the highway.

"Putting a helmet on and riding like a maniac is not going to save your life. It's riding safely, knowing your cycle, knowing the road," said Noonan.

One interesting fact from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, the majority of this year's motorcycle related accidents have been middle-aged men.