Two motorcyclists killed in crashes near Dunnellon High
Published: Sunday, April 27, 2014 at 9:57 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, April 27, 2014 at 9:57 p.m.
DUNNELLON — A pair of motorcyclists traveling through rural Marion County died late Saturday when their sport bikes left the roadway in front of Dunnellon High School, went through a wire fence along the Rainbow River State Park’s tubing tramway and slammed into trees inside the fence line, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.
The impact scattered pieces of the motorcycles throughout the area for several hundred feet. Their bodies weren’t discovered until early Sunday morning.
According to the report, Justin William Richard, 22, of Weeki Wachee and Douglas Scott Keller, 27, of Citrus Springs were headed south on Southwest 180th Avenue Road about 10:30 p.m. Saturday when they both “failed to negotiate a left-hand curve and drove off the roadway.”
Both were wearing helmets, according to the report. Both were traveling “at a high rate of speed.”
The area where the road curves is about midway between the state park’s campground entrance to the north and an entrance for the river’s popular tubing. Across the road from where the motorcycles hit the fence is a lightpole above an entrance to Dunnellon High School; it’s not known if the light was on at the time.
After leaving the road, according to the report, the motorcyclists went straight onto a grassy shoulder for about 100 feet before cutting through the fence.
According to the FHP report, both drivers were thrown when their motorcycles began to overturn after going through the fence. Keller was thrown into several trees next to the fence line while Richard and his bike “traveled further south tumbling through trees and underbrush before they collided with a large tree.”
There were no witnesses, FHP Sgt. Jamie Mulverhill said. “We have to piece this together.”
The motorcycles’ exhaust pipes were cold when troopers arrived about 7:30 a.m., he added, indicating the crash had occurred hours earlier.
The scene and the bodies were found by employees of the state park prior to opening the tubing entrance nearly a mile to the south of the scene.
Assistant Park Manager Davey Penuel said he drove south on 180th to open the park’s tubing entrance and noticed “the fence was taken down.” But it was nothing new; he said cars occasionally mishandle the curve and go through the fence there. He said he planned to go back later to fix the fence.
But another park employee, whom he did not identify, also noticed the gap in the fence and stopped to investigate.
“He found motorcycle parts on the tramway and then found a body,” Penuel said.
Penuel said he returned to the site and found the second body several feet away. The crash ripped the bark away from one tree.
“It was pretty gruesome,” he added. “It looked like they never even leaned into the curve.”
Contact Rick Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 867-4154.