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Two bikers killed, two injured in crashes ; 17 area motorcyclists have died since April 1

Two motorcyclists were killed and two others were badly injured in crashes over the weekend, the latest in a series of serious motorcycle accidents across the region in the past 12 weeks.

In the most recent crashes, two appeared to be the fault of another driver and two occurred when the bikes crashed into deer, according to sheriff's deputies in Erie and Niagara counties.

The two fatal crashes from the weekend bring the number of motorcyclists killed in this region since April 1 to at least 17, according to police agencies and Buffalo News archives.

Experts say they typically see a rise in the number of accidents at the start of the summer riding season, and they're not surprised more people are getting hurt or dying in crashes because the overall number of bikers in New York has increased sharply.

But the four weekend crashes prompted police to warn motorcycle operators to pay close attention to road conditions and to remind other drivers to keep an eye out for motorcycles.

"Especially on the weekends [when] the weekend riders are out," said Erie County Sheriff's Lt. Thomas Daugherty, owner of a Harley-Davidson Super Glide.

The most recent crashes were reported late Saturday and early Sunday.

At 1:21 a.m. Sunday, a 51-year-old Gasport man was traveling south on Quaker Road in Hartland when he struck a deer near Becker Farms, the Niagara County Sheriff's Office reported.

James F. Boyer Jr. was thrown from his motorcycle and suffered multiple injuries.

He was taken by Mercy Flight to the Erie County Medical Center, where he remained late Sunday afternoon in critical condition in the intensive care unit.

About three hours earlier, on Lapp Road in Clarence, a 53-year-old town man was fatally injured when he was thrown from his motorcycle after striking a deer, according to the Erie County Sheriff's Office.

Stephen Grandillo was pronounced dead in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Amherst.

These were two of three deer-motorcycle accidents that occurred in a span of seven hours on area roads.

In the third such accident, which occurred at 5:23 a.m. Sunday on Main Street in Newstead, the operator was taken to Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital for observation, Daugherty said.

The two earlier accidents from this weekend involved other vehicles, investigators said.

An Eden man was badly injured at 4:40 a.m. Saturday when his motorcycle crashed head-on into a pickup truck on Boston State Road in North Collins, Erie County deputies reported.

Daugherty said it appears that Daniel Gallaway, 43, was hugging the center line while driving through a curve in the road when a pickup truck coming in the opposite direction crossed the line and struck him.

The pickup truck rolled over and landed on its side, but the driver and two other occupants got out, helped place Gallaway into another vehicle and waited for police to arrive, the lieutenant said.

Gallaway was driven to Bertrand Chaffee Hospital, Springville, before he was taken by Mercy Flight to ECMC, where he was in stable condition late Sunday afternoon.

The investigation is continuing, and charges are pending against the driver of the pickup, Corey Furl, 26, of Springville, Daugherty said.

In the fourth accident, motorcyclist Martin M. Crowley, 33, was killed when he collided with a vehicle that made a left turn in front of him at 9:30 p.m. Friday on Main Road in Pendleton, Niagara County deputies reported.

Crowley was pronounced dead at the scene. It is not clear whether charges have been filed against the other driver, Regina Harville, 17, of Pendleton.

A News reporter was told there wasn't anyone working at the Sheriff's Office on Sunday who could provide additional information on the crash.

The 17 fatal motorcycle accidents from this spring and summer included crashes caused by speeding, collisions with another vehicle and swerving to avoid a deer.

Some of the operators lost control of their bikes, and at least one is accused of driving while intoxicated in a crash that killed a passenger.

The victims were of varying ages, but many were in their 40s or 50s and not of a younger age when experts say operators may be more inclined to ride recklessly.

The deer-motorcycle collisions from this weekend surprised Daugherty, who said he believes this isn't the normal season for deer to be on the move.

But Daugherty said the warmer spring and summer weather brings out more riders, and other drivers must keep an eye out for motorcycle operators.

In turn, he added, motorcyclists must pay attention to road conditions, animals and other drivers who may be distracted by cell phones and other devices.

Unfortunately, it is the motorcyclist who will suffer the brunt of any collision.

"You don't get too many second chances on a motorcycle," Daugherty said.

e-mail: swatson@buffnews.com

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