A 58-year-old motorcyclist from Dubuque was injured in an accident on the orchard hill in the Village of Gays Mills on Sunday, Aug. 17, at 3:50 p.m., according to the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department.
The solo motorcycle crash occurred on Highway 171, just two-tenths-of-a-mile east of Highway 131.
Donald Galle was riding a 2010 Harley Davidson motorcycle west, coming down the orchard hill. He lost control of the cycle, while negotiating a curve on the hill and slid across the roadway crashing into the guardrail.
Galle was ejected from the cycle and severely injured. He was taken to the Vernon Memorial Hospital in Viroqua and later transferred to Gundersen Healthcare in LaCrosse. The motorcycle rider sustained a broken neck bone, a punctured lung and five broken ribs, according to the sheriff’s department.
Galle’s motorcycle sustained heavy damage and was towed from the scene.
Assisting at the scene were Ocooch Mountain Rescue, the Gays Mills Fire Department, Digger Don’s Towing and the Wisconsin State Patrol.
The accident scene has been the location of many other crashes over the years—both severe and minor in nature. More than one has been fatal.
On Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009, a 39-year-old Iowa motorcyclist was killed as he rode westbound on Highway 171, when he was unable to negotiate a curve while riding with a group of seven other cyclists. David Ryan, Iowa City, was pronounced dead at the scene by Crawford County Coroner Joe Morovits.
A similar fatal motorcycle accident occurred in about the same location on Highway 171 on June 30, 2004.
Despite the recurring tragedies, the highway is extremely well marked for slower speeds and caution. Two signs, measuring nine-feet-by-four-feet on either side of the road and topped with red warning flags, caution motorists of a 15 mph turn a half-mile ahead. Another sign warns truckers of a 10 percent grade, suggesting the use of lower gears.
Additionally, there are other signs clearly marking turns with lower speed limits.
“The problem is it’s a 15 mph curve and people aren’t going 15 mph,” Crawford County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Orrin ‘Butch’ Olson said of the curve.
A true 15 mph curve
Olson explained the curve is a true 15 mph curve and people, who are unfamiliar with it, don’t slow down enough. He called it a horseshoe corner that continues to curve after many people would have expected it to end.
“If you look at it, it’s not local people having the accidents there,” Olson said.
The chief deputy also noted the road is heavily traveled by motorcyclists, who enjoy taking the scenic route along Highway 171.