Sgt. Kiley Sargent, a public information officer for the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, is recovering after an off-duty motorcycle wreck Saturday in Swain County, N.C.
“A motorcycle heading in the opposite direction lost control and struck his motorcycle,” said Col. Jeff Strickland, chief deputy for the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.
Sargent was traveling south on North Carolina Highway 28 on his 2006 Harley-Davidson motorcycle while Donald Laster, of Eden, N.C,, was driving his Harley-Davidson motorcycle north on Highway 28.
“(Laster) crossed the center line and collided with (Sargent). Both operators of the motorcycles were ejected from the motorcycles,” said Sgt. J.K. Ledford, an officer with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol. “Both parties had evident injuries.”
The wreck occurred between Rymers Ferry and Fontana Dam, about 25 miles from Robbinsville, N.C.
Ledford said Sargent and Laster were both airlifted to the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville.
Sargent underwent surgery for a lower leg injury. Strickland said he was resting comfortably and should be released later this week.
Strickland said according to friends of Sargent’s, Sargent had been planning to visit a section of U.S. Highway 129 known as the “Dragon.” The 11-mile-long stretch intersects with North Carolina Highway 28. It has 318 hairpin turns and is popular with motorcyclists.
“Between Memorial Day and Labor Day we can see anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 bikes pull up in our parking lot on any given summer weekend,” said Charity Crist, general manager of Deal’s Gap Motorcycle Resort in Robbinsville.
The Dragon starts at an area called the Crossroads of Time, which includes Deal’s Gap and a few other businesses, and ends at Chilhowee Lake in Tennessee.
“Generally we have an accident out there every day or every other day,” Crist said. “Maybe five a month we actually have to call (for) assistance.”
Most of the Dragon’s accidents result in motorcyclists getting back up and driving off.
Crist said the Dragon, which has a speed limit of 35 mph, has tight, twisting turns that in her experience can be dangerous for cruisers and other motorcycles not designed specifically to handle those conditions.
Ledford, who did not know the extent of Laster’s injuries, said charges against Laster were pending.