CHP officers survey the scene of a fatal motorcycle crash this afternoon in Watsonville. (Photo: Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE—A man died Friday around 12:45pm when he lost control of his motorcycle while exiting Highway 1 southbound at the Riverside exit.

California Highway patrol officer Israel Murillo said the motorcyclist shot off the pavement on the curve of the exit, plunged through a patch of ice plant and struck a eucalyptus tree.

The victim, who was pronounced dead at the scene, has not been identified pending notification of next of kin. The southbound exit from Highway 1 was closed just after 2pm to allow for an investigation.

The incident is still under investigation.

California Highway Patrol officers collect evidence on the offramp from southbound Highway 1 at Riverside Drive Friday in Watsonville where a male motorcyclist lost control around 12:45pm, struck a tree and died. —Tarmo Hannula /The Pajaronian
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Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. More recently Good Times & Press Banner. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


  1. tragic.
    I almost lost my son (yes, he is adopted) 10 years ago on the Almaden Expressway in San Jose in a near fatal accident with a car. I asked him to stop riding. he has. I celebrated Thanksgiving with him yesterday. I am so grateful !

  2. tragic.
    I almost lost my son (yes, he is adopted) 10 years ago on the Almaden Expressway in San Jose in a near fatal accident with a car. I asked him to stop riding. he has. I celebrated Thanksgiving with him yesterday. I am so grateful !

    • How disrespectful can you be to boast and brag about how you “almost” lost your son. You obviously have no brain nor respect for anyone. Noone even needed to know that your “son” is adopted! Noone cares! RIP JOHNNY MOLLETT. I LOVE YOU DEARLY. LITTY AND MARY I LOVE YOU. LOVE, TIA

  3. Tgis is my brother John. We are trying to find anyone with information as the story we are receiving doesn’t add up. Please help our family. We walked the scene today and couldn’t make sense of it.

  4. I would like to send my profound gratitude to Mr.Tarmo Hannula, who took these most sensitive, intimate, and highly raw moments and made them his own. Only a true artist could have such couth and empathy. I’m not sure which my family appreciated more.. learning their beloved was dead or the atrocious angle in which you took your pictures of the motorcyle. Talk about shock value! You tore a whole in my mother’s heart and left my family to quiver at the sight of “so much blood.” I assume you do develop these pictures or at least read the proof of your works?? Having your lifes labor in journalism/ photography etc I assumed you had some kind of “eye”, general talent or moral compass? You may have pursued this career in school but have absolutely NO CLASS. I have no idea why the Santa Cruz Sherrifs Dept or Watsonville CHP use orange spray paint for these procedures, however, I am much more confident in there annalise of the scene then in the humility of thier photographer. What a cheap disgusting ploy to gain views. You knew that the orange spray paint looked like blood under the bike and down the trail. There is NO question in my mind you sold it that way for more publicity. I truly hope you are satisfied in your craft Mr.Tarmo. You’ve certainty left a lasting impression on me; yours will be a name I will not soon forget. Thank you for covering my baby brother’s last ride on this earth. May God bless you and keep you from the indistinguishable and unnecessary hurt we felt here today. -We ❤️ you John.

    • Your anger is misguided.
      You are mad at a journalist, for journalism?
      Tarmo doesn’t publish the article. If anything, be mad at The Pájaronian/Managing Editor.

    • It’s not blood it is red paint. You can see the spray can in the officer’s hand. They always map out all evidence in a situation like this so investigator’s can continue to investigate after the seen is cleared.

  5. How’s this for anger. They didn’t tell us he was being pursued until the 12th of Dec. So much for “lost control, shot off the pavement” They burned his helmet at the coroner’s even though it was evidence in a investigation, it wasn’t inventoried. Not to mention they claim there was no pursuit cause they “called it off” right before he h got the tree.


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