Bikefest kicked into gear Friday night with lighter crowds than in recent years in some areas, according to officials.
At about 2 a.m., Horry County officials said there were 10 motorcycle/vehicle crashes. Three holiday weekend traffic fatalities were reported within the county.
The first involved a pedestrian struck and killed by a Ford minivan while crossing the roadway. The incident was reported at 3:10 p.m. Friday in the area of Green Sea and Hands roads, and according to Cpl. Sonny Collins with the South Carolina Highway Patrol, the driver won’t face charges as the pedestrian was illegally crossing the roadway, Collins said.
Two more traffic fatalities both happened about 4:20 a.m Saturday, authorities said.
Tony Hendrick, Horry County deputy coroner, was called for one fatality at a moped/vehicle crash that happened about 4:20 a.m. Saturday on U.S. 701 South and New Road in Conway. Conway police are investigating the incident they say is a hit-and-run that involved a moped rider being struck from behind by a burgundy van that fled the scene.
The other early-morning fatality was a single-vehicle motorcycle crash. Edward Douglas, Jr., of New Haven, died a little more than an hour later at Grand Strand Medical Center after the crash that occurred on Oak Street, according to Tamara Willard, Horry County Chief Deputy Coroner.
County officials said there was less traffic and activity than they initially anticipated, and all law enforcement reported light activity at event locations, according to an early morning release Saturday from the Horry County Emergency Center.
The traffic loop, scheduled to go into effect at 10 p.m., got a bit of a late start, but was discontinued at 1:30 a.m. - thirty minutes earlier than the loop’s scheduled ending, and there were a few minor sign issues, according to officials.
Authorities also said airport traffic was efficiently handled after notice to Myrtle Beach police for late arriving flights.
North Myrtle Beach city officials also said traffic seemed lighter all day and through the evening on Friday.
“By no means did we achieve “ghost town” status, but there was an obvious decline in traffic over previous years,” officials said in an email Saturday morning. “In hindsight, we saw a foreshadowing of this last year when traffic declined slightly.”
Officials said they typically see day-trippers show on the weekends, and said they would be watchful for a possible decline in those visitors as well.
Along the event’s home turf in Atlantic Beach, traffic was heavier as bikers filed through the chute leading into the small suburb. Hundreds of Hondas and Suzukis made the annual pilgrimage down Atlantic Street, then made their way to Myrtle Beach, backing up traffic along Highway 17.
Audrey Hudson contributed to this report.