LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Luke Air Force Base lost one of its own when an airman assigned to the base was killed in a three-car wreck on Interstate 10.
It happened shortly after 5:30 p.m. Sunday in Buckeye.
Staff Sgt. Matthew Dennison, 25, of Mechanicsburg, Ill., was riding a 2012 Harley Davidson. He was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix where doctors pronounced him dead at 7 p.m., less than two hours after the crash.
According to the Department of Public Safety, Dennison, who was not wearing a helmet, rear-ended a white Ford pickup. While he wasn't thrown from the bike, he was separated from it. A maroon Ford pickup hit the bike after it was down. That second truck did not hit Dennison.
Both of the pickup drivers were wearing their seat belts. Neither one was injured.
DPS Officer Carrick Cook said a witness told them Dennison might have made some kind of threatening gesture moments before the wreck. Investigators have not been able to confirm that, but they are exploring the possibility of road rage. They also are trying to determine if impairment might have been a factor.
Answers to those questions will not be available until the evidence can be analyzed and the investigation and its related report are complete. Cook said all of that will take quite some time.
While it's not clear if a helmet would have saved Dennison, Cook said wearing a full-face helmet is the single most important thing a motorcycle rider can do in terms of safety, comparable to wearing a seat belt in a car.
Dennison was an aircraft structural maintenance journeyman in the 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron. He entered the Air Force on Aug. 1, 2006, and arrived at Luke AFB on Feb. 5, 2007.
"The death of Sgt. Dennison is a tragic loss for the Air Force and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and coworkers during this difficult time," said Brig. Gen. Mike Rothstein, 56th Fighter Wing commander. "He was a valuable member of Team Luke and will be greatly missed by all."
On Thursday, flags at Luke AFB will be lowered to half staff in Dennison's honor.