A man was killed west of Merced on Friday when his motorcycle struck a power pole, ejecting his passenger, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The 37-year-old Atwater man was headed eastbound on Highway 140 near Howard Road when for an unknown reason he allowed the motorcycle to drift onto the shoulder at about 1:30 p.m., Officer Eric Zuniga said.
Traveling at about 65 mph, the impact threw 38-year-old Bessie Mitchell, who was riding on the back of the Harley-Davidson, according to CHP. The motorcycle was then fully engulfed in flames.
The man was pronounced dead at the scene and the woman was taken to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto with major injuries, CHP said. The man’s name has not been released.
The highway was shut down for about two hours following the crash.