HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Motorcycle enthusiasts have flocked to the Grand Strand over the past two weeks for the annual spring bike rallies, leading to a greater influx of traffic on area roads.
Unfortunately, the past two weeks have proven deadly for motorcyclists. Four fatal crashes have been reported on Horry County roads, while several wrecks involving motorcycles have led to injuries.
Two of the deadly motorcycle crashes occurred just a few hours apart. William Hogue, 61, of Fayetteville, N.C., died shortly before 2 a.m. Friday after the motorcycle he was riding was hit in front of Duplin Winery in North Myrtle Beach by a vehicle that fled the scene.
Around 10:30 p.m. Thursday, 58-year-old Samuel Willingham, of Athens, Ga., was killed in a motorcycle crash on the Highway 90 exit ramp from Highway 22.
On May 17, 54-year-old Teresa McCord, of Chesapeake, Va., died after the motorcycle she was riding was struck by a tractor-trailer on U.S. 501.
Another deadly motorcycle crash happened May 15 on U.S. 501 and claimed the life of 41-year-old Benjamin Hall, of West Virginia.
Since last week’s spring Harley rally, the South Carolina Highway Patrol has investigated over a dozen motorcycle crashes in Horry County.
Now, the focus is on the busy Memorial Day weekend, which will see an influx of visitors coming to the beach for the holiday weekend, along with more motorcyclists in town for the Atlantic Beach Bikefest, also known as Black Bike Week.
Law enforcement is expected to stay busy.
“I think the good weather has probably prompted more motorcycles out than anything,” said Cpl. Sonny Collins with the South Carolina Highway Patrol.
When it comes to staying safe while riding, the S.C. Department of Public Safety has a number of tips bikers should adhere to. Two of the biggest are wearing a helmet and riding sober.
For those in cars, the SCDPS reminds drivers that state law entitles motorcycles to the use of a full lane and “no motor vehicle shall be driven in such a manner as to deprive any motorcycle of the full use of a lane.”
Collins said extra troopers who were brought in for the spring rally will be assigned to traffic control points in and around Atlantic Beach this weekend to help maintain the flow of traffic.
With high temperatures expected for this busy Memorial Day weekend, Collins advises motorcycle riders and car drivers alike to pre-plan before hitting the roads.
“Pre-plan your trip and that may alleviate sitting in traffic,” he said.