Toy run tragedy

AN ULVERSTONE woman taking part in a Christmas charity motorcycle ride died in a crash on the Midland Highway yesterday morning.

The 45-year-old, who was riding solo, died at the scene of the crash,  50 metres south of the Esk Highway turnoff at Conara, just after 10.30am.

When police and paramedics arrived at the scene,  the motorcycle still had the soft toy strapped to it that she had intended  to donate to the Salvation Army as part of the Motorcycle Riders Association Christmas Toy Run.

 Police said the woman had been heading south on a black 250cc Suzuki when she lost control and hit the  railing on the eastern side of the road.

 They said yesterday's high winds might  have been a factor.

Her name has not been released.

A minute's silence was held at the end of the toy run on the lawns of Parliament House in Hobart, and the bear on the woman's bike was the first donated to the appeal for the year.

Police said they did not believe speed or alcohol was a  factor  in the crash.

``High winds were reported by other motorcyclists in the area and this is believed to have been a factor in the crash,'' police said.

The south-bound lane was closed to all traffic until 1.30pm.

MRA South president Dean Horsey said it was meant to be a happy day for the 8000 motorcyclists who took part but ended in tragedy for the woman's family.

``You've got someone who was taking part and wanted to help others, and you just don't want these things to happen,'' Mr Horsey said.

``It was a freak accident and it's affected the whole motorcycle community.''

Mr Horsey said riders filled four trucks with toys and other donations that would be given out by the Salvation Army over the next few weeks.

Police have appealed for any witnesses to the crash to contact investigators on 6336 3936 or 6336 3701.

The crash was the second fatality in less than 24 hours, following the death of a 55-year-old Singaporean female tourist in a single-vehicle accident south of Copping at 4.30pm on Friday.

The woman and four other family members were passengers in a red Kia Carnival van being driven by a 62-year-old man also from Singapore.

The woman died at the scene.

Police said the van veered into a drain upon exiting a right-hand curve and struck a concrete culvert before travelling down a substantial slope and hitting a tree.

The deaths take the state's road toll to 28, compared with 22 at the same time last year.

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