Motorcyclist killed north of Thermopolis by distracted driver reaching for a bottle of water

(Thermoplis, Wyo.) –  A crash involving two vehicles resulted in fatality Friday near mile post 42 on WY 120 approximately 42 miles northwest of Thermopolis. The crash was reported at 11:08 a.m. on August 29th.

According to a release from the Wyoming Highway Patrol, 41 year-old Christian M. Tafoya of Loveland, Colorado was traveling northwest on WY 120 on a 2013 Victory motorcycle. A Cody man, 40 year-old Tyler M. Schwab, was traveling southeast in a 2000 Toyota Tundra. It was reported that Mr. Schwab reached down to retrieve a bottle of water and momentarily took his eyes off of the roadway. This distraction caused the Toyota to enter into the opposite lane of travel and strike the motorcycle Tafoya was riding. The crash caused Tafoya to separate from the motorcycle and sustain injury. Tafoya was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.
The crash victim was transported by a helicopter ambulance to Billings, Montana where he succumbed to his injuries. Driver inattention by Schwab is being investigated as the contributing factor in the crash. Schwab has been cited for failing to maintain a single lane of travel and for careless driving.
According to the Highway Patrol, the fatality “reminds us that there are many other distractions inside of a moving vehicle in addition to texting or talking on the phone that can lead to a crash. Drivers need to be mindful of all distractions that occur while operating a vehicle and remember to focus on the driving task. It is most beneficial to take care of the distraction when it is safe to do so after the vehicle has been parked,” the news release indicated.