The owner of Jakes Corner Bar died this weekend in a motorcycle accident just a few miles south of town.
Rickie “Rick” Heppler, 63, was heading south on Highway 87 into Rye Saturday afternoon when he lost control of his Harley and crashed near milepost 244.
He died instantly, said a Department of Public Safety spokesperson. He was not wearing a helmet.
Heppler had just finished participating in a poker fun run benefiting the Payson Supply Line at the American Legion, said Larry Beck, a cook at Jakes Corner Bar and Heppler’s friend.
Beck, who left the Legion just minutes after Heppler, said he was horrified to come upon fire trucks and squad vehicles after he had spent most of the day keeping a close eye on Heppler, who had ridden the Harley only once before.
The men had ridden up to Pine, Star Valley and back to Payson, collecting beads for the poker run, without incident.
“We were following him to make sure, but he acted like he had been on that bike all his life,” he said. “He said he liked how it rode and I said that’s good ’cause it’s your bike.”
They headed back to the Legion to turn in their beads and eat lunch.
Heppler and another friend then headed down the hill on their motorcycles while Beck hung back to turn in his beads.
A motorist driving behind Heppler told DPS later that as Heppler went around a corner he drifted from the slow lane into the fast lane, but never straightened out and crashed.
“We will never know what happened,” Beck said.
Beck said he had known Heppler for nine years. He said Heppler was an experienced rider who had raced motorcycles in his younger years.
“He was a really nice guy, he would give you the shirt off his back,” he said. “Just real down to earth. He was an incredibly busy, active guy,” he said.
Heppler worked for the Ping golf company.