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Minnesota motorcyclist hits pothole on freeway, thrown to his death

A motorcyclist going at least 100 mph struck a pothole or a crack along a winter-worn stretch of a Minneapolis interstate and was thrown to his death, authorities said Wednesday.

Anand Baskaran, 30, of the Long Island community of East Northport, N.Y., hit the road hazard along eastbound Interstate 394 near Theodore Wirth Parkway about 9:50 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.

Baskaran was not wearing a helmet when he was found by emergency personnel, state safety officials said. However, witnesses reported seeing him wearing a helmet before the crash and one was later found at the scene.

While the Patrol reported that Baskaran is from New York, he worked at 3M in Maplewood as an information technology analyst, a company official said. Also indicating his relocation to Minnesota, state records show a couple of minor traffic violations months apart since late 2012 in the Twin Cities area.

State safety officials say that Baskaran's death is the second-earliest motorcycle fatality in what they consider the motorcycle riding season, which begins when winter nears its end. After a particularly cold and snowy winter, temperatures this week have climbed above freezing with no precipitation in the Twin Cities, though snow has fallen elsewhere in the state.

The temperature in Minneapolis was slightly above freezing and there was no rain or snow falling at the time of Baskaran's crash.

Three witnesses said that Baskaran and another motorcyclist were going at least 100 mph, and possibly as high as 120 mph, said Patrol Lt. Jason Bartell.

"We have one witness statement that the motorcycle hit a crack in the road and started to wobble. ... It's really hard to come back from that," Bartell said at a news briefing. The Patrol's initial report on the incident described it as a pothole.

"It falls back to speed; it falls back to that unsafe, illegal speeding," Bartell said. "If you're driving at that speed, no matter what the road conditions are like, it's going to be tragic."

Bartell said there have been "no reports of road conditions being unsafe in that area."

The other motorcyclist "took off from the scene shortly after the crash" and has not been located yet, he said.

I-394 in both directions between downtown Minneapolis and Highway 100 was particularly vulnerable this winter to potholes because a thin asphalt overlay was peeling away. Crews have been patching up spots in recent weeks.

As efforts to fill in potholes continue, "people need to slow down and watch for them" Kent Barnard, spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, said Wednesday. "We will have a bumper crop of them this year."