Victim of Hwy 12 motorcycle crash identified


Safety tips for driving out on Highway 12 in Lolo

LOLO, Mont. - Montana Highway Patrol released the name of the victim killed in a motorcycle crash on Highway 12 Sunday. Ryan Cole, 28, was from Missoula.

The crash happened near mile marker 10, east of the Montana-Idaho state line.

MHP says Cole was eastbound shortly after 6 p.m., when he hit a guardrail and traveled along it for about 400 feet. He was thrown from the motorcycle and over the guardrail, suffering fatal injuries.

Highway 12 is known as a winding road -- popular with drivers and bikers, but also dangerous.

We checked our archives, and in 2010 an SUV slid off the road and landed in the creek. In 2011 a car went off the road and through trees killing the driver and injuring her twin sister. In January 2012 there was a three-semitruck collision near mile marker 18. In February 2012 a postal carrier survived after going into Lolo Creek near mile marker 18. In 2013 a fatal accident happened after a driver hit another car on the highway just west of Lolo. Including Sunday's crash, that's six serious crashes in the last 5 years.

The scenic route on Highway 12 is a popular drive for motorcyclists, especially in the summer.

"(There are) a lot of motorcycle accidents, including commercial trucks as well as passenger cars," said Trooper Wade Palmer, with Montana Highway Patrol.  

Motorcyclists and MHP filled us in on what safety precautions drivers should be taking, especially on Highway 12.

"Watching your speed, not tail-gating. Those are probably the two biggest things right there," said Steve Ridgway.

"You have to pay attention to the road surface; you have to pay attention to the advance signs for your curves. Especially on Highway 12, you have so much uneven pavement and broken up pavement in there, and when you hit that with your bike, your bike will jump," said Mike McCormick.

When traveling out on Highway 12, there's a loss of cell service. MHP advised what to do if you get into a dangerous situation.

"Try to flag down other traffic. Try to see if they'll help you. Try to see if they'll go to the nearest location where there is service," explained Palmer.

A key thing riders stressed is paying attention to other drivers.

"The young guys on their rocket bikes, they do time trials and time runs and, as far as I'm concerned, some of those guys ride way out of their ability and their control," said McCormick.

One motorcyclist told NBC Montana that he was turning in for the night just before 7 p.m. He said he doesn't like to ride later than that because of wild animals and deer out on the roads.

Family friend Jillian McGullis set up a fundraiser to help pay for Cole's memorial service. 

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