Daytona Beach Police Chief Craig Capri takes to heart reality that aside from a death in Holly Hill, his city's lone Bike Week casualty was on the last day, indicating less revelers attended

Headline Surfer multimedia / Daytona Beach Police Chief Craig Capri provides a favorable summary of Bike Week from a law enforcement perspective amid a backdrop of scenic biker crowd shots from Main Street, the epicenter of the 10-day rally showcased in the audio-visual slideshow. And shown above in an image from her personal Facebook page is Krystal Brown of DeLand.
By Henry Frederick
Headline Surfer

Daytona Beach, Fla. -- Krystal Brown and several friends from St. Louis were looking for the right party atmosphere to enjoy a night out and Bike Week on Main Street in Daytona was as good as it got to party on down, with drink specials, indoor and outdoor liver bands and chrome-filled motorcycles lining the curbs.

But there was something different about this rendition of Bike Week compared to the last time Brown was here several years ago: "There were fewer people," said Brown, 41.

Port Orange Mayor Don Burnette hadn't been to Bike Week in five years, but he visited Main Street on the final weekend and it became apparent to him that it just didn't seem to be as packed.

"I was there for a couple of hours and the crowds seemed lighter than a decade ago" said Burnette, 51, mid-way through his first term as mayor, after eight years as a councilman.

Police Chief Craig Capri took to heart that the city's lone Bike Week fatality occurred on the 10th and final day of the massive motorcycle rally. For this tourism city’s top cop, even a single motorcycle-related death is one too many. 

“I was really hoping we wouldn’t have any,” Capri told Headline Surfer. “To go all of nine days and then have this tragic death, it’s a little rough."

Overall, there were two biker deaths during the 10-day rally: The first occurred earlier in nearby Holly Hill.

Daytona Beach Police Chief Craig Capri / Headline SurferPolice Chief Craig Capri , shown here in this Headline Surfer photo, took to heart that the city's lone Bike Week fatality occurred on the 10th and final day of the massive motorcycle rally. For this tourism city’s top cop, even a single motorcycle-related death is one too many. 

“I was really hoping we wouldn’t have any,” Capri told Headline Surfer. “To go all of nine days and then have this tragic death, it’s a little rough."

Overall, there were two biker deaths during the 10-day rally: The first occurred earlier in nearby Holly Hill.

A motorcyclist from upstate New York was killed on March 12, in Holly Hill. The wreck at Flomich and State avenues took place at 8:10 p.m., according to a report from Florida Highway Patrol. The rider, identified two days later as 54-year-old David Remchuck of Hornell, NY, was thrown from his 2005 Harley-Davidson after he struck a utility pole while westbound on Flomich. 

Remchuck was not wearing a helmet and was pronounced dead at the scene, by responding Florida Highway Patrol troopers, who are investigating what may have caused the New Yorker to lose control of his custom Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

That fatality occurred the third day of the rally. Another seven days would go by until the second roadway fatal involving a biker – this time within the city limits and the rider was local.

Mark Kitterer of Enterprise went failed to stop for the red light at Clyde Morris Boulevard and Aviation Center Parkway at 9:41 p.m. Sunday and T-boned a car, according to an email media alert Headline Surfer received from Lyda Longa, the spokeswoman for the Daytona Beach Police Department.

Kitterer, 56, was pronounced dead shortly after his transport to Halifax Health Hospital. Daytona Beach cops suspect alcohol may have been a factor in the crash, according to Longa’s email news alert. An investigation is ongoing.

But considering Bike Week has traditionally drawn upwards of 500,000 bikers, according to the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce, that figure, mostly from anecdotal counts has become less set in stone as indicated by a steep decline in motorcycle roadway deaths in the past decade-plus.

The the two deaths from Bike Week 2018, were the same as last year. In 2016, there were five fatalities and in 2015, four. There were three each in 2014 and in 2012. Biker deaths in the past decade or so peaked at eight each in 2012 and in 2007.

Cops on the beat and many small business owners have told Headline Surfer repeatedly over the past half decade that Bike Week's crowds have thinned somewhat over the past decade. Then again, that half million influx of motorcycle enthusiasts is not a hard figure supported by any substantive data readily available. 

"It's more like Bike Week-light," said Jason Davis, himself a Harley rider, and county chair, from 2012-2016. "You can't put much stock in these numbers since it's mostly PR.," said Davis, who said it was obvious to him five years ago, the last time he was at Bike Week, that the 500,000 figure is not legit.

"All you have to do is look around and see how few bikes there are," Davis continued. "Ten years ago, you couldn't hear yourself think, with all the loud pipes." 

Then-Volusia County Chair Jason Davis in 2013, at Daytona Bike Week / Headline Surfer"It's more like Bike Week-light," said Jason Davis, himself a Harley rider, and county chair,  from 2012-2016, and shown here on his bike and on the dais in these Headline Surfer photos, in 2013.

"You can't put much stock in these numbers since it's mostly PR.," said Davis, who said it was obvious to him five years ago, the last time he was at Bike Week, that the 500,000 figure is not legit.

"All you have to do is look around and see how few bikes there are," Davis continued. "Ten years ago, you couldn't hear yourself think, with all the loud pipes." 

Daytona's tourism magnet for decades has been the hard sands of the World's Most Famous Beach where limited stretches of beach driving still remain in place, and Daytona International Speedway, home to NASCAR and its signature race, the Daytona 500

DIS hadn't had a sellout for nearly a decade for the Daytona 500 until two years ago when the track was renovated and fewer seats remained, and then again this year.

Janet R. Kersey, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce, told Headline Surfer, her organization, the official sponsor of Bike Week, which this year ran through March 18, hasn't yet compiled figures for an overall attendance figure, and while readily conceding it may not have reached that 500,000 thresholds this time around, she predicted it could come close.

"The event has become so spread out now beyond the city of Daytona that we don't really know if participants are going to other venues as opposed to staying home," Kersey said.

Headline Surfer graphic / It shouldn't come as a surprise that the top 3 states with the most motorcycle fatalities are warm weather states led by Florida, California, and Texas according to the latest statistics available.
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Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com for a decade now. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed dozens of journalism-industry awards in print anddigital platforms. Frederick is enrolled at Full Sail University in Winter Garden, FL, where he's three-fourths through the online Master of Arts program in New Media Journalism. His graduation is in August.