Purchase photos

Fatal chase short-lived

8/1/2012

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

From the time a 26-year veteran of the Hays Police Department told dispatchers he was in pursuit of a motorcycle, less than a minute passed before the driver of that vehicle crashed through a fence and died.

The motorcycle, driven by 32-year-old Ryan McGinness, believed to be a Larned native, reached speeds in excess of 100 mph, according to Hays Police Chief Don Scheibler.

All of that occurred within a 1.5-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 183 Alternate between Vine and Golf Course Road, which leads into the Hays Municipal Golf Course, said Assistant Hays Police Chief Brian Dawson.

The Kansas Highway Patrol's Critical Highway Accident Response Team is reconstructing the circumstances surrounding the accident in an attempt to determine exactly what happened.

According to the HPD, at 6:43 p.m. Friday, a Hays Police lieutenant observed McGinness driving his 2012 Suzuki GSX 1300 motorcycle in a reckless manner.

The officer reported the motorcyclist ran a red light at the intersection of Eighth and Vine, the back end of the motorcycle swerving as McGinness headed south on Vine.

McGinness also failed to stop at the stop sign at Vine and the Alternate, police said.

He headed west on the Alternate as the officer turned on his lights and sirens.

"As the lieutenant attempted to catch up to the motorcyclist, the motorcycle was observed passing several vehicles while accelerating to speeds estimated at over 100 mph," a statement from HPD said. "The pursuit lasted less than a minute with the patrol lieutenant about a quarter-mile behind the motorcyclist when he crashed."

Scheibler said the officer actually lost sight of the motorcycle in the chase.

"We're fortunate nobody else got hurt," he said.

Reports suggest the cyclist might have looked behind him briefly just as he approached a curve on the Alternate, driving off the roadway, hitting an embankment and flipping several times.

McGinness, who was not wearing a helmet, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Scheibler said McGinness's driver's license listed him as being from Great Bend, but a recent registration on the motorcycle listed him as a Hays resident. His parents are from Larned.

The motorcycle is considered to be the one of the fastest production motorcycles in the world, with a top speed of slightly less than 200 mph.

"He never got close enough to even get the tag number," Dawson said of the officer giving chase. "He knew the tag was white."

Scheibler said only 52 seconds passed from the time the officer said he was in pursuit of a vehicle to the time he radioed dispatchers that the motorcycle had crashed.

"I can't stress enough this is a tragic event," he said. "Our sympathy is with the family."

But he said the officer also is reeling from the tragedy.

"That officer had an obligation to try and initiate that traffic stop," Scheibler said.

The officer, who Scheibler declined to name, has been offered support to cope with the tragedy.

"The officer acted professionally," Scheibler said. "He did his job."

That's what the department's professional standards investigation found, he said.

"That the officer acted appropriately within the rules of the Hays Police Department," Scheibler said. "I can't stress enough, he had an obligation to try and stop that vehicle."