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Nearly 40 people have died in motorcycle crashes around the state this year. Since 1999, the number of motorcycles licensed in the state is up 60 percent, while the number of motorcycle deaths has risen by 89 percent.

In Thurston and Mason counties, at least three people have died this year in motorcycle crashes and at least eight other wrecks caused serious injuries to riders.

• Gregory Allen Banks, 52, of LeGrand, Calif., was killed last week when he lost control of his motocycle and was thrown under a semitrailer on Interstate 5.

• Jenifer Gitchell, 34, of Olympia was killed July 5 when a truck turned in front of her on 62nd Avenue.

• David C. Broussard, 55, of Bremerton died in May when his motorcycle was hit by a car on Old Belfair Highway.

The state’s latest death was Monday, when Pamela B. Farrell, 58, of Shoreline was riding beside her husband when her Harley-Davidson went off U.S. Highway 2 and down an embankment west of Stevens Pass. Weather did not appear to be a factor and the cause of the crash remained under investigation, troopers said.

“We’re seeing people dying who are between 45 and 60. They can afford to get their first bike or take it up after a hiatus,” observes one State Patrol spokesperson. “The problem is, those Harleys weigh a couple hundred pounds, and they’re a whole different animal than a car.”

Of the 11 local crashes in Thurston and Mason counties, eight were caused by other drivers who failed to see the motorcycle or who took an action that led to the accident.

In about one-third of the fatal crashes statewide, the rider was not legally endorsed to drive a motorcycle, and inexperience appears to be a factor in the rising death count.

If you have questions about motorcycle accidents or your legal rights, please contact us.

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