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Motorcycle crashes take toll in Warren Co.

By Joe Beck -- jbeck@nvdaily.com

A Front Royal man remained in critical condition Monday following a motorcycle accident on Rivermont Road on Saturday, the second of two crashes that happened within minutes of each other along the same stretch of road.

State police identified the second victim as Larry E. Darr, 43. They said a medical helicopter flew him to Inova Fairfax Hospital after his motorcycle sideswiped a state police patrol car driven by senior state trooper R.L. Fiorvanti.

Fiorvanti was on the way to an accident reported at 5:47 p.m. on Rivermont Road near Lee Burke Road, state police reported. The rider in the first accident, Ricky V. Cromer, 54, of Front Royal was thrown from his motorcycle after running off the road and striking a campaign sign, according to state police. Cromer died at Winchester Medical Center late Saturday, state police said.

State police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said the second accident remained under investigation Monday. She had no further details.

Both accidents were part of a rash of motorcycle accidents on Saturday that killed four riders and seriously injured several others.

Fatal accidents were also reported in Greene, Westmoreland and Virginia Beach counties, Geller said. Another motorcycle rider was injured in a non-fatal accident in Nelson County, she said, adding that, "to have four motorcycle fatalities in one day is unusual."

Geller and John Saunders, director of the state Division of Motor Vehicles Highway Safety Office, said the rate of motorcycle accidents typically spikes in the spring and fall as riders take advantage of ideal weather conditions and the state's scenic vistas.

"With fall foliage, people are out enjoying their motorcycles and the open air and beautiful scenery Virginia has to offer," Gellar said.

Saunders said most motorcycle accidents occur on the state's primary and secondary roads.

"Probably the major cause we see is failure to maintain control. That's the overarching thing," Saunders said.

Cromer was the first motorcyclist to die on a Warren County road this year, according to records from the DMV. The DMV has recorded three so far in 2012 in Frederick County and none in Shenandoah. The DMV registered no motorcycle deaths in Frederick and Warren counties at this time last year and four in Shenandoah County.

The DMV's yearly statewide records show an 11 percent decrease in motorcycle fatalities through Sept. 23, 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.

Christopher Falkenhagen, a public affairs specialist with AAA Mid-Atlantic, said in an e-mail that motorcyclists face a list of heightened risks that include "no airbags, no seatbelts and basically little or no room for error.

"What would be a minor fender bender for two cars, is often much more serious for a biker who flies off . . .his bike and has nothing between their body and the roadway."

Saunders said riders sometimes lack the skills to handle motorcycles, especially some of the powerful models. The state offers motorcycle training at community colleges and other sites throughout the state.

Saunders urged riders to consider signing up for an advanced course, "which I think is very important."

Advanced courses allow riders to train on their own motorcycles and thus give the rider a better feel for how to maintain control on curves and at his speeds, he said.

"The number of crashes we see attributed to running off the road is extremely high," Saunders said. "I don't know if the issue is speed or distractions, but they're running off the road and then overcorrecting. I just ask folks to slow down and obey posted speed limits."

Information on motorcycle training courses and their locations can be found at http://www.dmv.virginia.gov/webdoc/citizen/drivers/m_course.asp

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