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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, June 24, 2002

California biker dies on Haleakala downhill run

By Kapono Dowson
Advertiser Staff Writer

A bicycle accident on Maui's Haleakala Crater Road killed a 72-year-old California tourist yesterday.

Robert Burkhart of Vallejo, Calif., was fatally injured yesterday morning while he and his family were on a downhill bike tour with Mountain Riders Inc., Maui police said.

Burkhart was riding downhill on Haleakala Crater Road from the summit area. He was just below the nine-mile mark when his bike veered off the roadway and hit a guardrail. Thrown from his bike, Burkhart flew over the guardrail and landed 40 to 50 feet below on a mountain embankment, police said.

Maui Fire Department rescue personnel found people at the scene already performing CPR when they arrived. An ambulance arrived shortly thereafter, officials said.

Police reported they had been called on the scene at 11:37 a.m. Park rangers and the Fire Department brought Burkhart up from the embankment and he died at the scene at 2:25 p.m., police said.

National parks officials had previously expressed concern about the number of serious accidents involving downhill bicycle riding in the Haleakala park area and on Haleakala Crater Road. A New York woman died in 1998 on a similar bicycling tour within the park.

Bicycle tours on Haleakala Crater Road began in the mid-1980s. Tour operators have estimated that some 70,000 bikers a year ride down Haleakala.

Mountain Riders said there was no one available to comment yesterday, but that more information would be released today.

Correction: The man who died in the bicycle accident was on a tour with Mountain Riders, not Maui Mountain Riders. A previous version of this story referred to the wrong company.