HUNTINGTON – Search warrants give new insight to an investigation concerning the crash that killed two motorcyclists and cast a dark shadow over this year’s West Virginia Heritage HOG Rally.
The July 9 crash killed Harley owners Luther “Buss” Shaffer, 75, and Patricia Shaffer, 76, of the Charleston area. It occurred about 12:40 p.m. when a Ford F-150 struck their motorcycle and two others, all southbound, as the six tandem-riding motorcyclists turned into Hillbilly Hot Dogs in Lesage.
It and a related crash seconds later scattered debris across the 6900 block of W.Va. 2 and closed the heavily traveled road for hours. The Shaffers died at the scene.
Search warrant affidavits, executed from July 13 and July 20, identified the truck’s driver as David Bruce Akers. The warrants sought blood tests, cellphone activity and evidence from the truck’s event data recorder. The vehicle carried Ohio tags.
Cabell County Sheriff Tom McComas said investigators still await lab results involving Akers’ blood. He said other preliminary work show neither cellphone activity nor speed contributed to the crash.
The search warrants refer to the fatal crash as potentially negligent homicide. McComas said deputies are waiting for toxicology results from Akers’ blood, which will be turned over with other evidence to local prosecutors.
All of the findings then will be presented to a future grand jury, McComas said.
The sheriff described Akers as “very remorseful.” He said the warrants were obtained as a matter of protocol and precaution.
“He’s been very, very cooperative with the investigation,” McComas said.
Akers, himself taken to the hospital, gave deputies a green pill container and cellphone before his ambulance left the scene. The affidavit states deputies found six hydrocodone pills in the container, although Akers told them he had not taken any of the narcotic painkiller since early the preceding day.
Medical providers drew Akers’ blood at St. Mary’s Medical Center. Deputies seized a sample and took it to the West Virginia State Police crime lab for toxicology tests, according to a property receipt attached to the executed warrant.
Drivers of the other motorcycles survived, but they suffered serious injuries like the driver of a northbound pickup truck involved in the related crash, the affidavits state.
The Cabell County Sheriff’s Office remains in contact with the Shaffers’ family, McComas said.
The back-to-back incidents happened as motorcyclists returned from that morning’s Mothman Ride to Point Pleasant, West Virginia. It was one of the first events scheduled as part of a Harley Owners Group rally in Huntington.
The four-day event attracted hundreds of motorcyclists to Huntington. Organizers dedicated the next day’s HOG Parade to the Shaffers’ memory.
(Reprinted by permission from the Herald-Dispatch. Follow reporter Curtis Johnson at Facebook.com/curtisjohnsonHD and via Twitter @curtisjohnsonHD.)