Motorcyclist dies after being struck on U.S. Highway 191 North

Contributed Photo/Courtesy DPS: A Harley Davidson motorcycle lays prone in the left lane after being struck from behind Sunday night. The rider, Richard Frank Cronister, 52, of Clifton, was deceased at the scene.

By Jon Johnson

GREENLEE COUNTY – A motorcyclist was declared deceased at the scene early Sunday evening after being struck from behind by a car.

First responders were dispatched to the scene on U.S. Highway 191 North at about 7:45 p.m. The collision took place in the far right lane in a northbound passing-lane area roughly four miles south of the intersection at Three-Way. 

According to an Arizona Department of Public Safety report, the motorcyclist, Richard Frank Cronister, 52, of Clifton, was located deceased at the scene. Cronister was riding a black, 1997 Harley Davidson motorcycle and was not wearing a helmet. 

Cronister’s motorcycle was rear-ended by a red, 2013 Kia Optima driven by Joseph James Castaneda, 23, of Clifton. According to Castaneda’s alleged comments to an investigating officer, he was northbound in the far right lane when the next thing he knew his airbag went off and hit him. He said he never saw the motorcycle. According to the DPS report, there were no signs of impairment from Castaneda and it didn’t appear that he was speeding excessively.

The collision forced the Optima to strike a guardrail and then it stopped in the right lane. The motorcycle skidded to rest in the left northbound lane and was later towed from the scene.

The DPS advised the incident is still under investigation. 

The Greenlee County Sheriff’s Office and Clifton Fire Department assisted at the scene.

This article was updated at 11:46 a.m. to remove a statement from an alleged acquaintance to Mr. Cronister at the behest of his family.

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