By Jennifer Kotila
WRIGHT COUNTY, MN A 64-year-old Annandale man is in critical condition following an SUV versus motorcycle crash near French Lake at about 4:30 p.m. April 26.
Gary Eckstein was riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle eastbound on Wright County Road 37 near Moore Avenue when a Ford Explorer, traveling westbound and driven by 17-year-old Jonathan Johnson of Annandale, turned left into a field approach in front of Eckstein, according to an accident report from the Wright County Sheriff’s Office.
Eckstein crashed into the passenger side of the Explorer, ejecting him from the motorcycle and causing him to strike the Explorer; he was not wearing a helmet, according to the report.
Eckstein was flown by air ambulance to St. Cloud Hospital, where he remained in critical condition as of Wednesday.
Comparing 2015 thus far with 2014 and 2013
This is the third motorcycle-involved crash in Wright County in 2015, the second involving injuries, according to preliminary data from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (MDPS).
Statewide, preliminary data shows there have been 100 motorcycle-involved crashes in 2015 through April 28 seven fatal, 76 injury, and 18 property damage only.
The first fatal accident occurred March 15, and the others in April, according to MDPS.
Preliminary data show no motorcycle-involved crashes in Meeker County so far this year.
Between Jan. 1 and April 28, 2014, there had been one motorcycle fatality of the 69 crashes statewide; 57 caused injury, and 11 only property damage.
Wright County had three motorcycle-involved crashes through April 28, 2014 two injury-causing and one property damage only. Meeker County had one injury motorcycle-involved crash during that time period.
Between Jan. 1 and April 28, 2013, there were three motorcycle fatalities in the 54 motorcycle-involved crashes statewide; 48 were injury-causing, and three property damage only.
Wright County had one injury motorcycle-involved crash during that time period, and Meeker County had zero motorcycle-involved crashes.
“Preliminary numbers for 2015 show there have been more motorcycle-involved crashes compared to the last two years,” said MDPS Public Information Officer Megan Matthews. “Motorcyclists have been out on Minnesota roads since early March, when we had that first warmer stretch of weather.”
Safety tips for motorists and motorcyclists
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety offers these safety tips to motorcyclists and motorists as the motorcycle season continues:
• Watch for motorcycles and always look twice before entering a roadway or changing lanes.
• Due to the smaller size of motorcycles, their speed and distance is more difficult to judge.
• Give riders room and check blind spots.
• Pay attention and drive at safe speeds.
• Be prepared for inattentive drivers by staying focused on riding and keeping your speed in check.
• Wear the gear. Motorcyclists should wear a DOT-approved helmet and brightly-colored protective gear for visibility and protection.
• Don’t drink and ride. One-third of all motorcycle fatalities involve impaired riders.
• Take a training course. Training is available for novice and experienced riders.