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Heading into final days, Sturgis rally attendance soaring

A stretch motorcycle is seen on a main road in Sturgis at the 78th annual rally on Friday, Aug. 10. Submitted photo form City of Sturgis

STURGIS, S.D. -- Sturgis Motorcycle Rally officials continue to be pleased with attendance at this year’s 78th annual event as visitors are up almost 6 percent over last year.

So far, through Thursday, almost 400,000 people have attended the event in the northern Black Hills of South Dakota.

The latest number released was for Thursday when 56,302 people entered the rally city, an increase of 11.5 percent over the same day last year.

A final total for the rally is expected on Monday, after figures for the final two days -- Friday and Saturday -- are released.

Meanwhile, fatal crashes are down with four so far, compared to six at this point last year.

In one serious crash on Thursday about 10 a.m., a 49-year-old woman who was on U.S. Highway 14 one mile east of Deadwood was hit by a motorcycle and suffered life-threatening injuries. The 46-year-old man driving the motorcycle and his 34-year-old woman passenger had minor injuries.

Also down are DUI arrests to 117, compared to 130 last year.  Drug arrests, however, are up to almost 200, compared to 169 last year.

Officers in the area also give out thousands of warnings each year to motorcyclists and motorists.  This year they have issued 2,930 warnings, about the same number as last year.