COLUMBIA — Two Columbia men, a 23-year-old and a 22-year-old, died Monday morning in separate motorcycle crashes that occurred within 10 hours of each other.
Columbia police said alcohol was a factor in the first motorcycle crash on East Walnut Street. Police said Brian L. Ricketts, 23, was traveling west on Walnut Street near Ripley Street at around 1:30 a.m. when he apparently lost control of the 2003 Honda motorcycle and traveled off the north side of the roadway, hitting a street sign and utility pole.
Ricketts was thrown from the motorcycle and was found lying on the sidewalk next to the utility pole. He was transported to University Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
According to Columbia police, Ricketts was wearing a helmet that did not appear to be legally certified for motorcycle use.
The second motorist, Mark E. Kompass, 22, was killed after he lost control of his 2006 Buell motorcycle around 11:30 a.m.
According to police, Kompass took off from the traffic light traveling north on Rock Quarry Road across from Nifong Boulevard, went into the shoulder, hit the edge of a driveway and flipped.
Medical examiners pronounced him dead at the scene.
Police said it is too soon to tell whether drugs or alcohol were involved, but nothing at the scene suggested that they were. Excessive speed was a contributing factor to the crash, according to a news release from the Police Department.
Police said Kompass was wearing a legally certified full-face motorcycle helmet.
Monday’s accidents are the second and third motor vehicle fatalities of 2008.
“I don’t recall ever having anything like this before, especially, this time of year,” Traffic Supervisor Sgt. Tim Moriarity said about the two motorcycle fatalities.
According to Moriarity, there will be an increase in enforcement of moving violations as a result of the crashes, with funding for the extra patrol officers coming from an overtime grant. He said officers will pay particular attention to motorcyclists.