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October 31, 2014

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Group has betting pool on biker deaths at Sturgis rally

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Toby Brusseau / AP

This Aug. 1, 2014, photo shows the streets of Sturgis, S.D., lined with motorcycles days before the official kickoff of the 74th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Members of a Black Hills family and their friends say they mean no harm with a betting pool they run on how many bikers will die during the annual rally. This year, 12 people put in $5 each, with the winner pocketing $60.

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Members of a Black Hills family and their friends acknowledge that a betting pool they run on how many bikers will die during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota is a bit macabre, but they say they mean no harm.

This year, 12 people put in $5 each, with the winner pocketing $60, the Rapid City Journal reported.

Fatalities are a fact of life at the rally that draws hundreds of thousands of bikers to Sturgis each year, said Carol Landrum, 62, who travels from Arkansas every summer to her family's cabin in the Black Hills.

"We hate that anybody does die, but we know it's going to happen," she said. "It was a joke initially. It's just kind of a way for us to get through the rally and be good-humored about it."

Landrum, a retired physician assistant, said she has seen the aftermath of tragic accidents.

"(The pool) is not meant in any way to be malicious, or hoping anyone has a bad accident," she said.

The pool started seven years ago based on an idea from a friend of Landrum's husband. That friend later died in a motorcycle accident, she said.

A few neighbors who were skeptical of the pool have since gotten over their initial moral objections and now join in, said William Landrum, 63.

"The first time, they kind of roll their eyes," he said.

Picking zero deaths is not an option.

"Unfortunately, that's always going to lose," Landrum said. For someone out there, "it's their time," he said.

The state Highway Patrol said four fatalities were recorded at this year's rally, which ended last weekend, down from six last year.

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