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Motorcycle accidents cast gray clouds over Love Ride event

October 23, 2011 |  8:01 pm

Two separate traffic accidents on the 5 Freeway in the San Fernando Valley left two people dead and two others injured on Sunday, all amid a popular children's charity event that attracts hundreds of motorcycle riders, according to event organizers and the California Highway Patrol.

Authorities and organizers were trying to determine whether the two people killed were taking part in a motorcycle ride from Glendale to Castaic Lake to help raise money for autism research.

"Whether they were or not, this was a tragic accident," said spokeswoman Susan Morrison. "In the 28 years of this event, we've never had a fatality before."

The first crash occurred around 10:24 a.m. when two motorcyclists collided on the northbound 5 Freeway near the 170 Freeway, just south of Branford Street, said CHP Officer Christian Cracraft. The two bikers were taken to a local hospital.

The crash blocked three of five lanes, forcing authorities to issue a SigAlert. The crash also created heavy traffic for several hours.

The two bikers were taking part in the Love Ride, according to CHP and Morrison.

By Sunday night, the two injured bikers appeared to be doing well, Morrison said.

Shortly after, authorities and organizers appeared to be confused over a second accident involving another biker and his female passenger, who were killed when they were run over by a big rig.

The crash happened in the same location, just about an hour after the first accident, Cracraft said. The lingering traffic from the first crash may have played a role in their deaths, he said. "I don't know if they were trying to catch up with the pack," Cracraft said. "They were splitting traffic on the 3 and 4 lane and got tangled by a big rig and got run over."

The names of the victims were not available Sunday night.

Love Ride Foundation is a nonprofit founded in 1984 by Oliver Shokouh. The organization raises money for children's charities each year. This year, the foundation was raising money for Autism Speaks, an organization dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism, according to the motorcycle event's website.

-- Ruben Vives