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Utah riding community talks concerns, safety after recent rash of two-wheeled vehicle accidents

Posted at 9:56 PM, Apr 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-11 14:42:01-04

In just the past four days, three people have died and another person was injured in accidents on two-wheeled vehicles in Utah.

Terry Marasco has been riding motorcycles for more than 20 years.

He is part of The Riderz Foundation, a group that helps riders be safe and work through any traumas they've had while on a motorcycle.

Marasco says in his time riding, he's had at least one close call.

"I'm pulling over into the left lane turn and a woman in an SUV is looking at me, pushing me into the ongoing lane," said Marasco.

Early Thursday morning, 47-year-old Russell Garcia's motorcycle collided with an SUV in the area of 11950 South State Street. Draper Police say Garcia passed away due to his injuries on Sunday.

"I don't trust anybody in a car or truck when I'm out riding, I act like they'll never see me," said Marasco.

On Saturday, two cyclists were hit and killed in Washington City, about eight miles northeast of St. George. The two men from California were participating in the "Spring Tour of St. George" timed bike ride.

"My heart is just broken for the family and for the cycling community, and everyone who had to witness such a preventable, terrible tragedy," said Jenn Oxborrow, the executive director of Bike Utah.

47-year old Julie Ann Budge was booked into the Washington County Jail on two felony counts of automobile homicide, two felony counts of DUI with serious bodily injury, two felony counts of failure to remain at the scene of an accident, and one misdemeanor count of reckless driving in connection with Saturday's incident.

"This is a perfect case of the cyclists were doing everything right," said Oxborrow.

Sunday afternoon, just before 2 p.m., another cyclist was hit and injured in West Valley City. Police say the driver of a gray SUV hit the bicyclist at the intersection of 4100 South and 4800 West. The driver then left the scene, heading south.

Oxborrow says Bike Utah educates about 6,000 kids each year with safety at the front of their minds.

"We need to take care of each other and we need to work as a community to promote safety overall for everyone," she said.

As for motorcyclists, like Marasco, he says it is a team effort between motorists and riders when out on the roadways.

"We have to give the same signals the same response as a four-wheel car or truck," he said. "We're not special — if riders aren't doing that, then they're unsafe."

Marasco says there are 80,000 registered motorcycles in Utah. He says you will see 60,000 of those out across Utah when the weather is good.

Police say before motorcyclists pull out into an intersection to make a turn, they should stay back behind the line. They say this allows them to not be forced to make a turn if they don't make the light.

As for bicyclists, they say being at a crosswalk is beneficial.