Police say pair of deaths show drivers and bikers need to pay attention

Posted at 7:40 PM, Apr 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-08 21:42:10-04

UTAH -- Two Utah motorcyclists died on Thursday, and according to law enforcement officers who responded to each scene, the deaths were the results of preventable accidents.

Rion Phillips died on Fort Union Boulevard around 9 p.m. Thursday when he hit a car that was leaving a restaurant parking lot. The 31-year-old dispatch supervisor was riding home from work. Witnesses say he was going too fast.

“It appears that the driver just didn't see the motorcyclist when she pulled out,” said Chief Deputy Justin Hoyal of the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office.

In Layton, it was 3:30 p.m. when motorcyclist Timothy Wangsgaard tried to make it through a yellow light and struck a car turning left. As was the case with Phillips, the driver did not see Wangsgaard before the crash.

When police arrived, Wangsgaard was still alive.

“You could tell there was a lot of blood loss and he needed some help,” said Officer Jessica Thompson of Layton PD.

Wangsgaard made it to the hospital, where he later died.

In each case, police say alert car drivers may have avoided crashing, but each motorcyclist apparently made decisions to travel or maneuver too quickly in areas where caution should have been the rule of thumb.

It’s a common mistake, says State Motorcycle Trooper Shawn Peppers.

“In an urban area it's a very dynamic environment," he said. "Riders need to be extra aware of the traffic and the traffic patterns."