A motorcycle accident in Yellowstone National Park claimed the life of a man earlier this month when he collided head-on with an SUV. The motorcycle rider, age 52, was traveling between Madison Junction and the overlook at Gibbon Falls when he was struck by the large vehicle. The SUV had been traveling southbound and crossed the centerline.
The victim in this case was struck by the SUV head-on and killed instantly in the crash. Reports indicate that he did not have time to react when the vehicle drifted in front of him.
Officials say that the man was in the lead of a pack of three riders when the SUV swerved into the oncoming lane. As the lead rider, he was unable to avoid the collision with the larger vehicle. The riders behind him were able to maneuver around the SUV. One was taken to the hospital by emergency crews after sustaining injuries that did not appear life-threatening. The other rider was treated at the scene of the crash for minor injuries.
Information from preliminary investigative reports indicate that the driver of the SUV may have fallen asleep, which could have caused the vehicle to drift into oncoming traffic. It is not clear whether alcohol or speed factored into the accident, and the incident remains under investigation by Yellowstone officials.
Media reports have not indicated that the driver of the vehicle is facing criminal charges, though they could be issued in the near future. Even if the driver does not face criminal sanctions, that person could be held liable for the death and injuries associated with the accident. The family members of the motorcycle rider could sue the driver for wrongful death, especially if it is found that the driver was negligent by falling asleep behind the wheel.
Furthermore, those injured in the crash could sue that driver for compensatory damages in connection with medical bills and pain and suffering.
Source: Bozeman Daily Chronicle, "Motorcyclist killed in head-on collision in Yellowstone National Park," Whitney Bermes, Aug. 16, 2012