BUSHNELL — Four motorcyclists who had just left an afternoon gathering of friends were killed Saturday night when their bikes were struck head-on by a truck attempting to pass another vehicle.
The wreck occurred shortly before 7 p.m. along County Road 476 near County Road 629, Florida Highway Patrol investigators said.
Killed instantly in the crash were William Barker, 54, of Stuart, his passenger, Patrice Poole, 55, of Mount Dora and John Holmes, 55, of Beverly Hills. Holmes' passenger, Patricia Beihayn, 52, of Hernando, in Citrus County, was flown to Tampa General Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
According to the FHP, Paul Sermons, 45, of Bushnell was driving his 1991 GMC pickup west on County Road 476 and was passing another vehicle when he realized the oncoming motorcycles were closer than he thought. Unable to slow in time, he struck both, ejecting all four riders, one of whom was thrown into the windshield of the vehicle Sermons was trying to pass.
Sermons suffered minor injuries in the crash, as did the driver of the other truck, Melissa Pike, 27, of Floral City and her passenger, Michael Rogers, 30. All were treated at the scene, according to the FHP.
State records show that Sermons' driver's license was suspended at the time of the accident.
Murray Rush, a friend of the motorcyclists, said he had known Barker and Holmes since childhood growing up in Clearwater. He had invited them and about 80 other longtime friends to what he called the "21 Year Salute," a daylong barbecue hosted at a mutual friend's property.
Barker, Holmes and their companions stayed for a few hours.
"We were talking about doing (the pig roast) again next year," Rush said. "That's what's so sad about it."
The FHP said the crash remains under investigation.
Logan Neill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1435.