Fatal bike wreck

A motorcyclist dead... Traffic at a standstill for hours.

It happened Thursday night when a Fort Gordon soldier, just home from a tour in Iraq, crashed into a guardrail.

Riverwatch Parkway... a stretch of road that many say is just asking for accidents.

Once you get on the Riverwatch Parkway, there's no turning back. It's a part of the allure for bikers to speed up.

Traffic signs warn drivers of the curves that lie ahead on this four-mile stretch of Riverwatch Parkway.

So do the reminders of the lives that were tragically lost.

And despite those warnings, accidents continue to claim more unsuspecting victims.

On Thursday night, 22-year-old Marques Allen was killed instantly after being thrown off his sports bike and hitting a guard rail. The Fort Gordon soldier had just returned from serving in Iraq.

“You get back and doing things you missed and you get on bike and you just wanna open it up and you make that mistake.”

Corporal Mark Chestang says the curves of the parkway are a natural draw for motorcycle riders. Less than a year ago, another soldier lost his life after losing control of his bike.

“Riverwatch screams for speed--there's nowhere to get on or to get off and you don't have to worry about traffic pulling out in front of you.”

And speed is the primary factor for both deadly accidents.

“It's very easy to get into a minor curve and lose control because you must hold your speed going in and if anything must accelerate a little.”

But Dennis Ellis says it doesn't make the parkway anymore more dangerous---in fact, he says it makes it safer.

“Curves are conducive to slowing down as opposed to a straight away on I-20.”

While state plans to add streetlights and concrete barriers to the median may not help a motorcycle rider, Dennis says they will prevent rollovers onto oncoming traffic.

“The concrete barrier will direct an accident back into a straight line.”

Eventually all the guardrails on Riverwatch will be obsolete, replaced by concrete barriers. But it won't happen anytime soon. The work is scheduled to begin in 2009.

So for now, the warning signs are all that's here to remind you to slow down.

To put it in some perspective... Last year, there were 69 motorcycle accidents on the county's roadways. The one on Riverwatch was the only deadly one, however.

That's down from 4 deadly motorcycle accidents in 2003, and 3 in 2002, according to county statistics.


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