CYCLE_DEER1.JPGKENT KRIEGSHAUSER/The Regsiter-Mail

Trooper Steve Icenogle, left, accident reconstructionist specialist for the Illinois State Police, Trooper Glen Scott, middle, and Todd Olinger of the Galesburg Police Department investigate the scene of Saturday afternoon's fatal accident on I-74 near Knoxville. The motorcycle struck the deer just east of exit 51. The passenger, a female was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the bike was transported.

Motorcycle, deer collision kills woman

Man injured in crash on I-74 near Knoxville

Sunday, June 5, 2005

KNOXVILLE - A motorcycle and deer collision on Interstate 74 Saturday afternoon killed a Galesburg woman and severely injured another man.

A 38-year-old white Galesburg female, who was a passenger on the motorcycle, was killed instantly of massive head injuries, Knox County Coroner Mark Thomas said. Her name was not released by press time. The driver, who police also were not identifying, was taken to OSF St. Mary Medical Center, Galesburg. His condition and the extent of his injuries were unknown at press time. However, LifeFlight to Peoria was considered after the accident.

The motorcycle, which was eastbound on Interstate 74, struck the deer around 1 p.m. Saturday near the entrance ramp at milemarker 51, Knoxville. I-74 East was closed about an hour before it was partially opened for passing on the shoulder. The dead deer and damaged motorcycle laid on the south shoulder after the accident. The deer was damaged so badly that it appeared to have been struck by a tractor-trailer.

CYCLE_DEER2.JPG
KENT KRIEGSHAUSER/The Regsiter-Mail

Tenille Ellis of Galesburg, one of the first on the scene of Saturday's fatal accident involving a motorcycle and deer near Knoxville, watches the investigation as traffic on eastbound I-74 begins to back up.

Tenille Ellis of Galesburg stood in the middle of the closed interstate highway looking toward the scene within 20 minutes of when it happened. A white sheet was draped over a body on the striped center line of the highway before the coroner arrived. At least 30 yards of dual tire tracks were on the pavement leading up to the accident, the result of a semi slamming its breaks to avoid hitting the victim, witnesses said.

"We just bought a motorcycle a month ago, so it's just blowing me away," said Ellis, who happened to be on her way to a motorcycle show in Peoria with her boyfriend.

"This just reinforces your need to have a helmet and be aware of your surroundings. Even though in theory we don't think deer come out during the day, they can and will."

Alice Riley of Canton was driving the vehicle closest to the motorcycle, following about a quarter mile behind when it happened. She was heading home to Canton after a Daughters of the American Revolution meeting in Woodhull.

She didn't see the deer, but saw the impact, which was like a burst, she said. The woman passenger was thrown into the roadway. The male driver was on the south shoulder. The woman never moved, she said.

The victims were not wearing helmets, which are not required by law. A witness said the crash was so severe that a helmet likely wouldn't have saved the woman's life.

A truck driver from the westbound lane witnessed the accident and ran across the grass divide to stop eastbound traffic, witnesses said. Some say the deer had come across the westbound lane first and traveled across the eastbound in front of the motorcycle.

"There was a plume of smoke and people running everywhere," Barbie Demick said.

Demick was about the third vehicle to pull up on the scene. She was driving a Knox College student to the Peoria airport to fly home for the summer.

"All I could think was, 'Oh my, God. It can't be good at these speeds on a motorcycle.' "

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