At 4:08 PM on Saturday, 09/20/09, first responders from the Rock County Sheriff’s Office and the Janesville Fire & EMS responded to the report of a motorcycle vs. trailer accident on E Avalon Road east of S Van Allen Road in south-central Rock County, southeast of the city Janesville in the Town of La Prairie. Units began arriving on scene at 4:16 PM.
Initial investigation indicated that a group of six motorcycles had left the Broken Spoke Bar on E USH 14 at the Rock-Walworth county line and were westbound on E Avalon Road west of S Milton-Shopiere Road. A 2006 Harley-Davidson FLHXi operated by Richard E. Hoffman, 51, of Fort Atkinson, with his wife, Paula C Hoffman, 42, a passenger on the motorcycle, was positioned near the front of the group and may have just passed one of the other motorcycles. At approximately the same time, a 2001 Chevy Silverado pickup truck driven by Derek J. Taylor, 26, of Janesville, was pulling an empty hay wagon eastbound on E Avalon Road and was in the process of turning northbound into a non-numbered driveway at a new home construction site approximately 1/8 mile west of 6121 E Avalon Road. The Hoffman motorcycle, reported to be traveling at a rate of speed above the legal limit according to witnesses, crested a rise in the roadway in the area of 6121 E Avalon Road and as the motorcycle traveled downhill from the crest Mr. Hoffman was subsequently unable to avoid crashing into the right rear metal and wood corner of the hay wagon just before the trailer traveled completely off the pavement.
As a result of the collision, both Richard Hoffman and Paula Hoffman were thrown from their motorcycle and were flung westbound on to the pavement. Paula Hoffman landed in the path of a 2000 Jeep Cherokee SUV driven Tanya S. Metz, 33, of Plover, that was eastbound on E Avalon Road and Hoffman was run over by the Metz vehicle. Richard Hoffman came to rest in the middle of the roadway. The motorcycle landed off the pavement in the south ditch. Witnesses indicated that prior to deputies arriving on scene, the sixth motorcycle left the area westbound. Neither the operator nor the motorcycle was ever identified, and its possible role in this accident, if any, is not known.
Rock County Chief Deputy Coroner Chris Hawley pronounced both Richard and Paula Hoffman dead at the scene, most likely as a result of impact-related massive head and internal injuries. Neither one was wearing a helmet. Speed and alcohol were believed to be factors in the crash, and both of the Hoffmans were found to be in possession of a white powdery substance that subsequently tested positive for cocaine. At this time, no charges are expected as a result of this crash. Technical crash investigators from the Wisconsin State Patrol responded to the scene at the request of the Rock County Sheriff’s Office and will complete a reconstruction of the crash.