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Ronald Salyer, 55, Is Killed as Van Collides Head-On With His Motorcycle On U.S. 1

| October 20, 2013

The motorcycle was almost immediately engulfed in flames. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

The motorcycle was almost immediately engulfed in flames. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Ronald Salyer, a 55-year-old resident of Middleburg in for Biketoberfest, was killed in a fiery crash on U.S. 1 at County Road 304 late Saturday night when his motorcycle collided head-on with a van that had driven into his lane.

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Salyer was riding a 1998 UKC motorcycle south on US1 with his cousin, Randall Hatcher, riding his own motorcycle behind him.

Gary Wyatt, 65, was at the wheel of a Ford van, with two passengers, including 74-year-old Eugene Kovacs of St. Augustine, riding north. It was 9:45 p.m.

US1 is currently under construction between Old Dixie Highway and just south of Bunnell: both southbound lanes are closed to traffic as they are being rebuilt. The northbound lanes have been split to accommodate northbound traffic on one lane, and southbound traffic on the other, with a temporary yellow divider between the two lanes.

According to witnesses, as relayed by a Florida Highway Patrol investigator at the scene, Wyatt was approaching the area of the Mobil station at County Road 304 in his van when he encountered a black sedan, apparently stopped in the northbound lane. Wyatt swerved left to avoid striking it, the investigator said.

Wyatt’s van immediately struck Salyer on his bike, who was riding in the opposite direction, and had no time to react.

The motorcycle exploded on impact, splitting it in two, and a fire engulfed the wreck. The van ended up in the median, several feet north of the wreckage, facing north. “This was an immediate crash and involved in fire,” the FHP investigator said. The black sedan “took off,” the investigator said, immediately after the crash. Charges are pending against Wyatt.

George April, who works for John’s Towing, the Bunnell wrecker, was first on scene: April happened to be parked at the gas station because it had been a busy night already. Two wrecks involving motorcycles had just taken place on U.S.1, north and south of the fatal wreck, though both other incidents resulted in minor injuries. April was waiting to respond to the wreck north of CR304 when he heard the collision, then saw the explosion. He rushed over with a fire extinguisher.

“I was sitting there, I heard the crash, I looked, I saw the explosion, I grabbed my fire extinguisher, called 911, and when I got up there I tried knocking down the flames because the body was laying within a couple of feet of the first bike,” April said. “I tried to get him out of the way and knock the flames down.”


At that point, he said, “we weren’t sure whether the guy was all right or not.” But once April and others moved him, “we realized he was gone.”

Salyer was not wearing a helmet.

Flagler County Fire Rescue and the Bunnell Fire Department responded, as did the Palm Coast Fire Police, which closed all traffic on U.S. 1, northbound ans southbound, from the intersection with Karat Path to the intersection with Belle Terre Boulevard. The road was closed until about 1:30 a.m. John’s Towing cleared the wreck.

Salyer’s death is the first fatality attributed to this year’s Biketoberfest in Flagler County, which began in Volusia Thursday. A grave wreck at U.S. 1 and Matanzas Woods Parkway Friday evening required the evacuation by air of Allen Shepard, who was taken to a trauma unit at Halifax Hospital in Daytona Beach.

The UKC motorcycle was split and incinerated in the collision. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

The UKC motorcycle was split and incinerated in the collision. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)


Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)


Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)


The Ford van. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

The Ford van. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)


A thin divider splits the temporary northbound and southbound lanes of the narrowed U.S. 1, as construction carries on across the median. The wrecked bike is visible here in relation to where the van ended up, in the median, with its brake lights on. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

A thin divider splits the temporary northbound and southbound lanes of the narrowed U.S. 1, as construction carries on across the median. The wrecked bike is visible here in relation to where the van ended up, in the median, with its brake lights on. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)


Both air bags deployed in the van. The van is equipped with a chair lift. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Both air bags deployed in the van. The van is equipped with a chair lift. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)


Randall Hatcher's bike. Hatcher narrowly averted being involved in the wreck. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Randall Hatcher’s bike. Hatcher narrowly averted being involved in the wreck. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)


Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)


Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

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26 Responses for “Ronald Salyer, 55, Is Killed as Van Collides Head-On With His Motorcycle On U.S. 1”

  1. markingthedays says:

    Wow. What a nightmare.

  2. confidential says:

    The laws of Florida should be stricter for cases that so often go unpunished and had to do with cutting in front of an incoming vehicle right of way! Punishment should be prison time if a habitual offender or if not then looses license for 5 years and/ or 5 years probation and community work. A citation or fine has proven not effective and we are talking about the loss or lives here!

  3. Agnese says:

    I have never lived in an area with worse drivers, how many tragic accidents will it take for people to pay attention? My heart goes out to Mr. Salyer’s family.

  4. Geezer says:

    Another example of why I dread Biketoberfest every year.
    When I saw the yellow divider on US1 for the first time,
    I knew that it would help claim a biker’s life during the next festival.

    My sympathies to Ronald Salyer’s friends and family.
    What a shame.

  5. hmmmm says:

    RIP prayers for his family

  6. SWEET AS PIE.,.. gluten free, organic ME says:

    I hope they find the bleak sedan ASAP. That person is the most liable.

  7. Alex says:

    I think we are over looking the bigger issue which is FL helmet laws and the fact this fatal accident may have been just a serious one if everyone was wearing helmets

    • 40 year rider says:

      Do you really think a helmet would have saved his LIFE. ITs a proven fact that a helmet is only good for low speed crashes and then your a veg for the rest of your life depending on some one else to care for you.

    • Beth says:

      You know that may be true in most cases, but seeing as how Ronnie’s bike broke in half and burst into flames because some idiot swerved into another lane, it would not have made a difference if he had a helmet on or not. Maybe you should read the facts more clearly and have some respect that his friends or family may be reading this…know what went on, which is in the article.

  8. barbie says:

    The speed limit in that construction zone needs to be lowered. And they really needed to break that up into sections, there’s too much of it. Driving it at night is horrible enough, but people are driving 50-55 mph in those temporary lanes and that has to change, or more will die.

  9. gb says:

    I agree with Geezer….when I first saw that road construction with the little temporary yellow road divider, I knew it was going to be trouble for the bikes. Very confusing set up, with sudden swerves to navigate. It is just waiting for a drunk driver to go the wrong way on it.

  10. BLR says:

    A car ran over a motorcycle at that intersection this past Monday morning about 10:30am. I was at the Mobil station getting gas and assisted the driver of the motorcycle until EMS arrived. A man from P& S Paving was there and called it correctly, he said someone would die there during bike week. The traffic is down to a split lane, yet they still have the speed limit at 60mph…it’s crazy. I just hop on the interstate at Flagler now or go out to Hwy 40 to avoid that area. It’s so dangerous. They should have officers working that area with lights in to slow traffic.

    • Anonymous says:

      That was not good planning on their part and apparently not welll marked and no speed limit change. But what I want to know is why the black sedan was stopped and why he ran

  11. Marissa says:

    If you gave me a brand new Harley I would refuse. Too dangerous. RIP Amen.

  12. Alex says:

    I remember another event daytona had every year until it caused crime and death so they canceled it and it moved to another city. It was called BCR , so how many people need to die before biktoberfest is canceled?

  13. cheryl says:

    My heart goes out to the Sayler family. My brother was the other biker, and last nite he lost his best friend. The last thing he rembers about his best friend was seeing him get killed. Everyone who drives should always look out for motorcycles, cause they have as much right to drive on the road as everyone else. Please look out for them, they deserve to share the road with everyone.

  14. tee says:

    In response to Alex. Why does every one blame lack helmets when there is an accident.? That poor guy didn’t stand a chance with or with out a helmet. How about the seniors that shouldn’t even still be driving? My condolences to Mr Salyers family and fellow Bikers. RIP

    • Reaganomicon says:

      I dunno, probably because being ejected at 60 mph, flying 100 feet or so through the air, and then slamming the concrete tends to cause massive head injuries that could be prevented with good full-face helmets and bodily injuries that could be at least partially alleviated by wearing a good jacket, boots, and leathers. Of course, this is coming from someone whose wife spent years working in the ER so I could be wrong about that. In any event, by all means, continue to ride gearless during biketoberfest and bike week, we need the tourism and we need donor organs.

      • Beeg says:

        Ya know, I’m sure Ronnie was not considering being that “organ donor” Saturday night!!!! I know Ronnie and Pam and the rest of the family and pray for all of them, however, road rules, and even boating rules, you ALWAYS go to the RIGHT, NOT LEFT. You need to have some compassion and some respect for Ronnie’s family and friends!

  15. Kat says:

    From what I gathered the vehicle was stopped in the northbound lane to make the turn onto 304, the van must not have noticed it until it was too late. Van swerved to the left, hopped the median hit the cyclist…why did he not swerve to the right and off the road rather than jumping the median into on coming traffic is the real question? Who knows why the car left the scene, we do know they were not directly involved in the accident. The driver of the van is at fault for not paying attention and swerving the wrong direction, point blank. Also, judging by the destruction of that bike, no helmet would have saved him.

    • LEIGH SMITH says:

      Lets not turn this tragic incident into your political beliefs, ronny left us doing what he loved to do. Its a damm shame people donot respect our space on the roads. Gods speed to you ronny, you will be missed someone should investigate why speed limmits were not lowered in construction zone and was there adequate lighting at these crazy swerves they put in the roads.

  16. JOHNNY says:

    This is so sad.Mr Wyatt was paralyzed many years ago by the same kind of accident.He was on his bike when a van pulled in front of him.I cant imagine how he his feeling right now.My condolences to the family.Its so sad.

  17. Manster says:

    I ride with full gear, maybe not the best money buys but it is better than a tank top, shorts and flip flops. If I die while riding, I can’t think of a better way to go but I’d rather not just yet. Yes, he probably didn’t have a chance with a head-on, would have had massive internal injuries but I guess we’ll never know. Probably would have died if he’d been in a car too. I know his chances would have been better with a full face helmet and padded/armored jacket. The liability should be on DOT for causing a hazard like that. If you walk into a store and slip where they just mopped the floor they are held liable but the state can do whatever they want. There should have been the temporary wall “Jersey sliders” in place between the lanes and he’d still be alive today. I hope his family gets a good lawyer. My condolences to them and his friends. BTW, I’m NOT an organ donor. I want the ER staff to try to save my life not my organs.

    • Hodges says:

      I am Ronnie’s daughter and I would like to thank all the people that posted positive comments on this page, but to all the rest of you please put yourself in my position! I am 24 and just lost my dad due to someone who swerved into his lane and hit him.

      • Jeremy says:

        A friend and I were riding home that night and passed by just after it happened. I will never forget it and my sympathy goes out to you for your loss.

  18. Bruce says:

    I have been doing novice research of traffic accidents for a year now and in my own personal experience as a driver I see people driving too fast, tail gating, passing on the right even when a left passing lane is available and distracted driving (talking to passengers, changing stations on the radio, eating, cell phone) .

    One basic rule of the road is to always scan the distance for potential problems and slowing down or changing lanes to react. If you are driving too fast for conditions and not scanning up ahead and then you are right up onto a stopped vehicle situation…it’s already too late. This man should have been preparing to stop as he saw a car not moving in the distance.

    If the car was trying to make a turn and wasn’t on the shoulder based on the conditions described here then they contributed to the emergency situation. You NEVER stop on a highway or for that matter in the middle of the road anywhere. You seek a safe place OFF the road to stop and get there as quickly and safely as conditions allow.

    If you are coming down a highway and see red lights (brake lights coming on) in the distance then slow your speed down… there is obviously congestion ahead…however you will see people getting over to the left lane and increasing speed and then slamming on their brakes! If you ever get behind me on the highway you may only see my brake lights come on once or twice for stupid drivers because I moderate my speed to the conditions ahead of me and keep pleanty of space between myself and the car ahead of me and I allow cars to merge on and off the freeway in front of me unlike many people I see who hurry up and try to close the gap! That’s INSANE! Treat other drivers the same you would want to be treated. You are in a cruise missile and if you treat your vehicle with that amount of respect you should get to your destination in one piece.

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