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Motorcycle crashes claim three NW soldiers since April

The scene of an accident between Sgt. Tyler Huber's Suzuki GSXR 1000 and a car near Puyallup, Wash.
Courtesy Washington State Patrol
The scene of an accident between Sgt. Tyler Huber's Suzuki GSXR 1000 and a car near Puyallup, Wash.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Three Washington-based soldiers have been killed in high-speed motorcycle accidents since April. And it turns out all three were riding the same model of high performance bike. The Washington State Patrol says the accidents were horrific and avoidable.

The first crash in April killed 24-year-old Sgt. Tyler Huber. The Airborne Ranger had done three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He died when his Suzuki sport bike collided head on with a car. Guy Gill with the Washington State Patrol says Huber was going more than 100 miles an hour.

"It exploded upon impact," GIll says.

The second crash killed 22-year-old Specialist Brian May who had recently returned from a year deployment to Iraq. He failed to negotiate a curve at high speeds.

Then just last week 23-year-old Spc. Zachary Harrington – who had also served in Iraq –- hit a tree and died.

Trooper Gill, a motorcycle rider himself, says ultimately the accidents were the result of rider error.

"I can't even imagine what these guys are going through if they're deployed and coming back," Gill says. "It's a tragic scenario for all three of these young men and being so young."

He then adds, "What makes it so heart wrenching is these are preventable."

Risk-taking among soldiers back from war is well documented. A spokeswoman at Joint Base Lewis-McChord says deployed soldiers who ride motorcycles are required to take a refresher course upon returning from overseas. (Click here for a link to Austin's story from Sept. 2010 on how risk-taking is common among returning soldiers.)

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network


Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.