Motorcyclist’s life claimed in crash
First 2006 traffic fatality
By Abigail Wix
Tomahawk Leader Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
A 36-year-old Gleason man was killed in a motorcycle accident last Monday, the first fatal crash in Lincoln County for 2006.
The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department responded to County Road D east of Kings Road in the town of Bradley around 6:15 p.m. after a cell 911 caller reported a 1977 Yamaha motorcycle had crashed.
Deputies found the driver, John R. Pahnke, Jr. of Gleason, gravely injured. He was taken by Tomahawk EMS to Sacred Heart Hospital where he was later pronounced dead by Lincoln County Chief Deputy Coroner Doug Duchac.
Several witnesses came forward after the crash, one woman reporting that she was passed by a motorcycle traveling at a high rate of speed on Kapahem Road minutes before the crash. Another witness said he also was passed by a speeding cycle on County Road D near US Hwy. 51. A short time later, that witness found the motorcycle crashed on the roadside.
Investigators determined that Pahnke was traveling east when his bike left the roadway onto the gravel where he lost control and struck a snowmobile trail, sending his cycle airborne. Pahnke and his motorcycle then traveled more than 500 feet after before coming to a rest. Deputies estimate Pahnke was traveling at about 80 miles per hour, Lincoln County Communications Officer Michael Caylor noted.
Identifying the victim was hampered because Pahnke had no identification on him and the Yamaha was not registered. Communications center staff worked with Illinois authorities to track down an owner’s name which led to Pahnke’s identity.
Speed is thought to be a factor in the crash. Pahnke was not wearing a helmet. The roads were dry at the time of the incident. The coroner’s office will conduct toxicology tests which are standard in any fatal crash, Caylor said. This is the first fatal crash in Lincoln County for 2006.