THERMOPOLIS — On September 6, 2019, a fatal crash occurred around milepost 134 on US Highway 20 near Thermopolis, Wyoming. Around 4:45 p.m., Wyoming Highway Patrol troopers were dispatched to the area for a motor vehicle collision.
A 2009 Harley Davidson was traveling northbound on US Highway 20 and had started to enter a construction zone. A Ford F-550 was slowing to a stop at the direction of a construction flagger. The driver of the Harley failed to notice traffic was slowing down and laid the motorcycle on its side as he was attempting to brake. The Harley collided with the back of the Ford.
The driver of the Harley has been identified as 58-year-old Thermopolis, Wyoming resident Joseph B. Watkins. Watkins was not wearing a helmet and transported to the Hot Springs Memorial Hospital where he succumbed to injuries sustained in the crash.
The driver of the Ford has been identified as 29-year-old Anaconda, Montana resident Vern A. Tuss. Tuss was wearing his seatbelt and not injured in the crash. The first passenger in the Ford has been identified as 36-year-old Miles City, Montana resident Matthew Harding. Harding was wearing his seatbelt and not injured in the crash. The third passenger in the Ford has been identified as 22-year-old Bozeman, Montana resident Connor Erickson. Erickson was wearing his seatbelt and not injured in the crash.
Driver inattention is being investigated as a possible contributing factor.
This is the 110th fatality on Wyoming’s roadways in 2019 compared to 76 in 2018, 103 in 2017, and 82 in 2016 to date.