Mechanical failure cited in death of racing motorcyclist

MONROE — A fatal motorcycle crash during a drag race at the Evergreen Speedway on Monday was caused by a mechanical problem, police have determined.

The motorcycle had a broken bracket within its rear braking system, according to a new report by Snohomish County sheriff’s detective Marc Monson. The bracket apparently became lodged in a fashion that locked up the rear wheel.

Edward A. Ritter II, 42, of Bothell, died while racing another motorcyclist on the final day of the Evergreen State Fair. The crash happened just after he crossed the finish line, around noon on Labor Day. His motorcycle hit an empty yellow bus that was parked near the northwest corner of the track, according to documents released Friday.

Ritter, who was wearing a helmet, died at the scene. His speed at the finish line was estimated at 97 mph.

Ritter was an experienced rider, his friends told police. They said he had recently purchased the black Suzuki motorcycle, and that Monday may have been his first time riding it on the track at the Monroe fairgrounds.

He had raced at the venue many times before on another motorcycle, police were told.

Monson found a single tire mark more than 420 feet long between the edge of the track and the crash scene. The bus was one of several vehicles parked for other events.

“The start of the tire mark was approximately 50 feet north of the finish line for the drag track,” the report said.

A closer inspection revealed the broken aluminum bracket within the rear wheel braking equipment, the detective wrote. The locked wheel likely would have stalled the engine and caused Ritter to lose control.

“Based on my observations of the scene and damage to the motorcycle, I believe Ritter likely encountered a catastrophic mechanical failure at or near the end of the drag course,” Monson wrote.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449;; @rikkiking.

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