Motorcyclist going 100 mph hits pothole on I-394, thrown to his death

A motorcyclist with a passion for fast bikes was going at least 100 miles per hour when he struck a pothole or a crack along a winter-worn stretch of a Minneapolis interstate and was thrown to his death, authorities said Wednesday.

Anand “Andy” Baskaran, 30, who worked as an information technology analyst at 3M Co. in Maplewood, hit the road hazard along eastbound Interstate 394 near Theodore Wirth Parkway about 9:50 p.m. on Tuesday, according to the State Patrol.

Witnesses saw that Baskaran was wearing a helmet immediately before the crash, according to the patrol. A trooper who arrived at the crash scene reported that Baskaran’s helmet was not on but one was recovered nearby.

Baskaran recently moved to the Twin Cities from Long Island, N.Y.

Three witnesses said Baskaran and another motorcyclist were going at least 100 mph and possibly as fast as 120 mph, patrol Lt. Jason Bartell said.

“We have one witness statement that the motorcycle hit a crack in the road and started to wobble … It’s really hard to come back from that,” Bartell said at a news briefing. The patrol’s initial report on the incident described the crack as a pothole.

“It falls back to speed; it falls back to that unsafe, illegal speeding,” Bartell said. “If you’re driving at that speed, no matter what the road conditions are like, it’s going to be tragic.”

The other motorcyclist “took off from the scene shortly after the crash” and has yet to be located, he said.

“The State Patrol would like to interview this person, but they have very limited information about this driver,” said Department of Public Safety spokesman Doug Neville, adding that the other motorcyclist had on a helmet and was possibly riding a black Honda CBR (2008 to 2010) sport-style motorcycle.

A passionate motorcyclist

The theme of Baskaran’s Facebook page is all about motorcycles, particularly fast ones.

“Finally first day in MN upper 30s,” he wrote last week, with a photo of a mostly orange racing-style motorcycle. “So I might take this bad boy out for a spin this weekend.”

Danny Hirji, a fellow motorcycle enthusiast who accompanied Baskaran on many rides on a closed oval in New York, said his friend “loved bikes and rode all the time. … He was young and aggressive, but I don’t think he would do anything stupid.”

I-394 in both directions between downtown Minneapolis and Hwy. 100 was particularly vulnerable this winter to potholes because a thin asphalt overlay was peeling away. Crews have been patching up spots in recent weeks.

As efforts to fill in potholes continue, “people need to slow down and watch for them” Kent Barnard, spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), said Wednesday. “We will have a bumper crop of them this year.”

Preliminary reports show that 60 people were killed in motorcycle crashes in 2013. There were 55 motorcycle fatalities on Minnesota roads in 2012, according to the Office of Traffic Safety.

 

harlow@startribune.com • 612-673-7768 pwalsh@startribune.com • 612-673-4482

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