A 31-year-old motorcycle rider died Saturday night after popping a wheelie on U.S. 98 North, losing control and crashing into a Ford Escape making a U-turn, according to Lakeland police.

The victim was identified as Valentine Dasent of Lakeland, who was riding a Suzuki GSX-R. The accident happened shortly after 8:39 p.m. Saturday in the 5000 block of U.S. 98 north, which is between Carpenter’s Way and Fountainview Lake Drive.

The southbound motorcycle was in the inside lane when “it began accelerating at a high rate of speed, lifting the front wheel off the roadway and merging into the center lane, according to witnesses,” the Lakeland Police Department said in a news release.

At the same time, the Ford driven by 74-year-old Linda Halifax of Lakeland made a U-turn and went into the outside southbound lane, police said.

The motorcycle rider lost control when his front wheel touched down, and his bike struck the left side of the Ford, which slowed to a stop on the side of the road, police said.

Emergency responders began life-saving measures. Dasent was pronounced dead at the scene at around 8:50 p.m.

U.S. 98 was closed for 3 1/2 hours while officers investigated the accident. The investigation remains open, police said.

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Barry Friedman founded Lkldnow.com in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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