Motorcyclists killed in accident wore helmets, followed rules

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Frank Schultz
Tuesday, April 22, 2014

JANESVILLE—The two men killed in a crash with an SUV on Sunday night were helmeted and following the rules of the road, investigators believe.

But they could not be protected from the vehicle that crossed the center line and crashed into them.

The vehicle left the scene and is the subject of a search.

Investigators said Tuesday they have received about a dozen tips that they are checking out, but the SUV has not been located.

The two victims, Mitchell J. Vance, 24, and Devin J. Julius, 18, both of Janesville, were riding with four others.

“It appeared they were not screwing around. They were just out riding, and unfortunately this happened,” said Capt. Todd Christiansen of the Rock County Sheriff's Office Detective Bureau.

Christiansen said he lives in the area of the accident on Highway 14 near Old Humes Road in the town of Harmony, and motorcycles can often be heard screaming down that stretch. But there were no reports of speeding motorcycles there on Sunday night.

Christiansen said photos of the accident scene show no obvious skid marks that would have indicated the SUV driver had slammed on the brakes before the crash.

The impact caused fatal blunt-force trauma to the heads and torsos of both victims, according to the autopsy report, Chief Deputy Coroner Lou Smit said.

“They were properly dressed and had all the safety equipment. It's just that the impact was so devastating that in this case it didn't make a difference,” Smit said.

Investigators are now looking for a different model SUV than what they announced they were looking for Monday.

The Rock County Sheriff's Office originally had said the vehicle suspected of hitting the motorcycles on Highway 14 was a Nissan. Later, a fog lamp assembly recovered at the scene was matched to an Infiniti QX4, with the help of a local dealership and car-repair shop.

Now, investigators believe the vehicle is a larger Infiniti, the QX56, Christiansen said.

Another piece of debris was found to have a number on it, and the dealership traced that piece, finding that it was specific to the larger Infiniti, model years 2004-07, Christiansen said.

The fog lamp also was used on the QX56.

Witnesses at the scene said the SUV was dark blue or black.

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