Motorcycle wreck kills Great Falls man

GREAT FALLS -- A Great Falls man died this week in a single vehicle collision, officials said.

Gerald Michael Hopper, 39, of 35 Canal St., died on impact Thursday night from a head injury, Chester County Coroner Terry Tinker said. Hopper did not wear a helmet, he said.

Toxicology reports note neither alcohol nor drug use was a factor in the fatal wreck, Tinker said. No autopsy is planned, he said.

Around 7:20 p.m. Thursday, Hopper was driving a 2000 Yamaha motorcycle south along Brooklyn Avenue near Great Falls, Cpl. Bryan McDougald of the S.C. Highway Patrol said.

"While traveling in a right-hand curve, he drove off the roadway, struck a driveway culvert and was ejected," McDougald said.

So far this year, eight motorists have died in Chester County compared with three last year, McDougald said.

In neighboring York County, 12 people died on state roads this year, and nine died last year. Twelve people died this year while driving on state roads in Lancaster compared with seven people who died last year, he said.

Of the 32 fatalities, seven people died while riding motorcycles in the tri-county area, McDougald said. Statewide, 71 people have died this year while riding motorcycles. Last year, 67 motorcyclist died, he said.

"Car fatalities are down, but motorcycle and pedestrian fatalities have increased," said McDougald, who noted 57 pedestrians have died this year compared to 54 last year.

So far this year, three motorcyclists died in York County, while two died in Chester County and two died in Lancaster County, McDougald said.

Officials consider the period from Memorial Day to Labor Day as the deadliest time of the year on South Carolina roadways because of the number of fatalities.