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Deputy hurt in North Auburn motorcycle crash

Placer County sheriff's deputy suffers major injuries in collision
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A Placer County Sheriff's deputy was seriously injured Wednesday in a North Auburn crash involving a car and the motorcycle he was driving. The collision took place on Bell Road just west of DeWitt Center's First Street. Deputy Bradley Gravely was driving westbound on Bell Road when a car driven by Hugh Morrill, 83, of Auburn, pulled out of the Sutter Medical Center parking lot to make a left hand turn, California Highway Patrol Officer Dave Martinez said. Witnesses told the CHP that Gravely – driving his personal motorcycle – swerved to avoid the collision but was struck and thrown from the bike - an FJR 1000 Yamaha. The injured deputy was flown to Sutter Roseville Medical Center by Calstar helicopter while the driver of the car and his unidentified female passenger sustained undetermined injuries. The female passenger was taken by ambulance to Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital. The CHP reported that Gravely had suffered major injuries but by late afternoon Wednesday, sheriff’s spokeswoman Dena Erwin said he was “doing remarkably better than initially suspected.” “His injuries may not be as serious as was initially thought,” Erwin said. The accident was reported at 10:35 a.m. and took place on a busy, five-lane section of Bell Road. Wesley J. Thomas, who was in a vehicle behind the Morrill vehicle waiting to turn onto Bell Road, said the rider was thrown at least 50 feet after the bike's impact with the front, driver's side of the car. "It was horrible," Thomas said. Thomas rushed to aid the fallen motorcycle rider and said he screamed for him to wake up. The man's helmet was cracked in several places and he was bleeding from the head, he said. "He came to and said 'Help me,'" Thomas said. Thomas said he's "been on his knees" as two of his own riding partners have died while on motorcycles. "It was a bad day," he said. "I haven't ridden a bike in 20 years. The funny thing was I was going to buy another one. I'm not going to buy one now." Another eyewitness, Louis Sigmond of Meadow Vista, said he was waiting to turn right onto Bell Road directly behind the Morrill vehicle when the accident took place. “He went right out and, in a flash, he hit the motorcycle,” Sigmond said. “It was terrible. I saw him flying through the air.” Sigmond estimated that Gravely was catapulted 20 to 30 feet into the air before coming down on the pavement 50 feet away. “It looked like he wasn’t watching what he was doing,” Sigmond said, referring to the car driver. “There was obviously traffic and I knew I wasn’t going to cross.” Airbags deployed in the Subaru that Morrill was driving and both occupants walked away from the accident, he said. The female passenger complained of chest pains before being taken away by ambulance, Sigmond said. Traffic was diverted along the five-lane stretch of Bell Road between First Street and Richardson Drive while CHP officers inspected the accident scene. Martinez said there was no immediate suspicion of drug or alcohol involvement in the accident.