A motorcycle rider is dead and his passenger in serious condition after they collided with an elk west of Star Valley Friday night.
Payson resident Kenneth Shelton, 59, was driving his motorcycle with passenger Julie Jenkins, 42, also of Payson, on Highway 260 near Highline Trail, which is near the Knolls subdivision turn off, around 8:15 p.m., said Gila County Sheriff’s Detective George Ratliff.
As Shelton was slowing down to 40 or 45 mph to enter Star Valley, a large elk darted onto the roadway, hitting the motorcycle.
The bike slammed into the ground, dragging Shelton and Jenkins, with the elk on top of them, 160 feet down the roadway, Ratliff said.
Neither was wearing a helmet and both suffered massive head injuries and facial fractures.
Shelton and Jenkins were airlifted to Valley hospitals in serious condition. Shelton was kept on life support until family was notified and then passed.
Since Saturday, Jenkins has undergone three facial surgeries and remains in critical condition, Ratliff said.
The elk was killed in the collision.
Highway 260 was briefly closed in both directions for the helicopters to land, creating a small back up.
Elk collisions remain a persistent problem on Highway 260, especially between Star Valley and Payson, Ratliff said.