The couple killed in a freak accident when their Harley Davidson collided with a 100-pound antelope that leapt into their path along Utah‘s Highway 12, in Monday’s Memorial Day crash, have been identified.
Sixty-two-year-old Levi Grant, a Dawes County Commissioner and well-known local business owner, and restaurateur Mimi Wheeler Groves, co-owner of the popular Helen’s Pancake & Steakhouse, and The Grove in Chadron.
The couple, who were both from Chadron, Nebraska were away on holiday when the tragic accident occurred.
The pair were heading westbound on Utah Hwy 12, an area known as ‘A Journey Through Time Scenic Byway,’ about 9:45 am when their motorcycle struck an antelope that unexpectedly jumped onto the road, and were thrown off the bike.
The highway they were driving on links Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Park.
Grant was pronounced dead at scene when emergency crews arrived. The antelope also perished.
Passenger Wheeler-Groves was transported by ambulance and then by air to St George Regional Hospital in St George, Utah. Medics described her condition as extremely critical.
Troopers said both had been wearing helmets, but described them as ‘heavily damaged.’
On early Tuesday morning, Wheeler-Groves passed away, Lieutenant Clay Morgan of the Utah Highway Patrol told DailyMail.com.
Levi Grant, 62, a Dawes County Commissioner and local business owner, and Mimi Wheeler Groves, 61, co-owner of the popular ‘Helen’s Pancake & Steakhouse.’ The couple, who were both from Chadron, Nebraska were away on holiday when the tragic accident occurred
The pair were heading westbound on Utah Hwy 12, an area known as ‘A Journey Through Time Scenic Byway,’ about 9:45 am when their motorcycle struck the antelope that had suddenly jumped onto the road, and were thrown off the bike in Monday’s Memorial Day crash
A picture of an antelope similar to the size of the one that struck the couple’s Harley Davidson
‘We have a lot of animals – mule deer, elk, antelope- that are struck by cars and motorcycles, but at 9am in the morning with full daylight to have an animal jump out in front of you is pretty uncommon,’ he said. ‘Most animal strike happen at night.’
On average, he said there are one to two animal strikes in the that area each night.
The antelope wasn’t very massive, Morgan said but ‘big enough for the driver to lose control and get ejected from the motorcycle.’
It was unclear, if the Harley Davidson, was owned by Grant or if was a rental, but Clay said the motorcycle had dealer plates on it.
Before the accident occurred, Morgan said the pair it looks like the pair had just left Bryce Park headed towards Zion National Park.
‘At 62, he [Grant] had been riding motorcycles for a long time and this time it just got him.’
A undated photo of the couple on the beach
An exterior photo o f Helen’s Pancake & Steakhouse in Chadron, Nebraska, known for their Breakfast All Day. A popular eatery that Groves-Wheeler co-owned for decades
Grant was the owner of Levi’s Auto and Metal Recycling. He was a former Chadron City Council member and was elected Dawes County Commissioner from District 3 in 2020, Rapid City News Journal reported.
In 2019, Groves-Wheeler’s daughter took over her mother’s businesses, the news outlet said.
One person who knew Grant and said that the much loved commissioner gave him a gift two years ago, a book called Daily Reflections, was saddened when he heard the news of his tragic passing, Chadron Radio News reported.
‘I live in Utah and I traveled route 12 many times on motorcycle. Weather in that area recently been 22 at night 58 doing the day. The sun will heat up the road doing morning hours, then the wildlife is attracted to the warmth of the pavement. I seeing this happen many times over in that area,’ he said.
He added: ‘Locals would usually warn tourists about this. It saddens me that this happened to a special person to all of us.’