Fatal Otago motorcycle crash: 'Devastating' a person died during school fundraiser

Fatal Otago motorcycle crash: 'Devastating' a person died during school fundraiser
Photo credit: Getty Images

The school involved in a fatal motorcycle trail ride near Milton says it's a devastating blow that a man has died during the fundraising event.

One motorcyclist died and 11 people were injured during the 18th Annual Lake to the Sea Motorcycle Trail Ride near Milton shortly after midday yesterday, after three crashes took place.

Two of the three crashes took place within 150 metres of each other, police said earlier today.

About 870 riders took part in the Tokomairiro High School-run event.

In a statement, PTA chairperson Lynne Johnston said their focus was to support the family and those affected by the tragic accident.

"Our hearts go out to this man's family and friends as they deal with the loss of their husband, father, colleague and friend," she said.

The 140 kilometre track was designed to cater for a variety of riding levels with sections for junior riders and others for experienced riders, Johnston said.

"Two other riders had to be airlifted due to remoteness with injuries; both of these were the result of single bike accidents. Other injuries dealt with ranged from a broken collar bone through to a sprained wrist and cuts and grazes.

"The Tokomairiro High School PTA community thank all those members of the community for their support of this event, to St John's for their tireless work, and to the rescue helicopter and police for dealing with this very sad situation."

Further queries were referred to the police.

Clutha District mayor Bryan Cadogan said it was terrible that a long standing, motorcycle ride fundraiser has ended in tragedy.

"It's a devastating event that will have impacted on everyone. Now will obviously be a time for mourning," he said.

"There's a real positivity coming through Milton and to have a tragedy like this is most upsetting for a tight knit community, and like all of Milton, my thoughts go out to those family and friends who are directly affected."

Emergency services responded to the crashes after two distress beacons were activated in the area at around 12:10pm.

The Serious Crash Unit attended and examined the scenes.

The death has been referred to the Coroner and enquiries are ongoing into the circumstances of the crashes.

In a post on the Lake to the Sea Trail Ride's Facebook page, entrants were urged to make sure their bikes and gear was fit for purpose.

Helmets, gloves and good boots were all mandatory.

The post said organisers tried to vary the track each year but they relied on the landowner's permission. The tracks were split into three options - a 40km junior ride, a senior track and one for advanced riders.

The ride began at Narrowdale Road next to the Toko Golf Course.