Merced County motorcycle rider killed in crash identified

A man killed in a solo motorcycle accident last week has been identified as a 37-year-old Atwater man, according to the Merced County Coroner’s Office.

The driver of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle struck a pole about 1:30 p.m. Friday on Highway 140 near Howard Road, according to the California Highway Patrol. He was identified as Douglas Mitchell, the Coroner’s Office said Monday.

Mitchell was traveling east and for an unknown reason allowed the motorcycle to drift toward the shoulder of the highway, CHP said. The impact with the power pole threw his 38-year-old passenger, Bessie Mitchell of Atwater.

Traveling at 65 or 70 mph, according to witnesses, the motorcycle burst into flames after striking the power pole, CHP said.

Mitchell was pronounced dead at the scene and the passenger was taken to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto with major injuries, CHP said.

The highway was closed for two hours following the crash.