Barry West Kills Deer
John Wilson, Barry West and I were on the fifth day of our two-week trip. We had overnighted in Libby, MT. It was a cool morning as we headed west on Highway 2. About 15 miles out of Libby we took Highway 52 south, heading to Highway 200, which would take us to Sand Point, ID.
Turning south on 52, we encountered fog, so speed went down and we had to take it easy. Barry was in the lead. We kept in touch with our CB radios.
Highway 52 is a great road and very scenic. I had done it a few years back coming from the south and heading north to Libby.
Chatter between us was minimal as the fog was thick. We were all wary because of low visibility. About six or eight miles north of Highway 200, the fog began to lift and the sun started peeking through. I remember I commented on the CB, "This is what this valley is supposed to look like." We were coming into a nice sweeper, and we had begun to increase speed. I figure we were going about 45/50 mph Barry was looking through the sweeper, and I was about 50 to 75 yards behind him. Off the left side of the road, I saw a deer, and she was in a dead sprint out into the road. I didn't even have time to shout on the CB, "Watch out!" it all happened in a split second. The deer ran right in front of Barry and he "center punched" it. The deer flew back the way she was headed flipping twice through the air before landing on the road -- dead. Barry's bike looked like it had hit an Iraqi IED. It exploded with parts and pieces going every which way. The amazing part was that HE NEVER WENT DOWN! Barry pulled over as soon as he could safely stop the bike, and I rushed up behind and jumped off my bike and ran over and grabbed him to see if he were ok. I pretty much screamed at him. "Are you all right?" He replied in a somewhat shocked voice "I'm fine. I hit a f**king deer!" John, about this time, pulled up behind us and wondered why we stopped. Was it to look at the deer or what? He had no clue that Barry had actually clobbered the deer.
From here we got Barry's bike to a wide part in the road, and John took off down the road to find help. Barry and I noticed, as we waited, that there were deer in plain sight all over the place. I must have counted seven or eight while we stood around waiting. There was even a very large deer, which turned out to be a cow moose and her calf. Yikes! This was truly critter country.
John came back shortly as he had found a small collision repair place a couple of miles down the road. Barry was able to drive his bike there. The radiator was toast but held enough fluid to get the two miles to the shop. Barry then spent a lot of time on the phone calling the insurance company, trying to get a wrecker and finding a Honda shop to repair the bike.
We ending up a few hours later heading just south of Sand Point, ID to a Honda shop where Barry met an insurance adjuster. The bike was close to being totaled, but Barry talked the adjuster into saving the bike. So Barry ended up having to leave the bike there and get himself to Spokane, where he got a flight home.
As I write this, Barry has gone back up to the Honda place to pick up his bike and is continuing the trip we all started on. I hope he doesn't see any more deer.
I believe Barry never went down because he truly did not see the deer until the impact happened. He never even hit his brakes until after he hit the deer. He was accelerating and looking ahead, so he never had time to panic or throttle down. Could all of these factors have prevented his fall? It's hard to say. But I did thank Barry for not dying in front of me, which I was convinced was going to happen.
I can still see it in my mind's eye. I really am thankful he wasn't hurt. So is he! Al
Postscript by Barry West, 8/21/09
Yes I was very lucky. I hit a small doe at the base of her long neck. Her right shoulder crashed through the fairing and bent my radiator. Her body ripped off my left hardbag. She missed my front wheel, fender and forks. My handlebars never moved and the bike never even gave a wiggle. After looking over the damage, I was able to ride a few miles to a phone. Naturally none of our cell phones had reception in that spot.
My ST1300 spent nineteen days at May's Honda in Sandpoint, ID waiting for the expensive replacement plastic to arrive. They did an excellent job and kept me informed the whole time. I was able to store my riding gear with them while the bike was being repaired. And they even gave me a ride from the motel to the shop when I was ready to retrieve the bike. If you are in Sandpoint, stop in and say Hi!
I had riden 2271 miles with Al and John prior to the deer strike and after I picked up the repaired bike I continued on the trip. I slightly modified our original intinerary and was able to visit several old friends in Washington. Bill Schink met me in Susanville, CA and we headed back home together. After the deer strike I added another 2990 miles. The trip total was 5261 miles.
Due to the fog and the closeness of the forest to the highway where the accident occured, I was as alert, aware and cautious as I have ever been on a motorcycle. And I still hit a deer!
Wear all the gear, all the time!