Thursday, May 22, 2008

Yesterday I participated in the International Ride of Silence. Unfortunately, just the day before, a local kid named Jarryd Brown was killed on his bicycle.
I took my bike up to Krank it Up at 6:30 to fix a leaky tire, and just in general get my rusty bike back in to shape. My patch on the tube didn't take, so Danny let me ride his mountain bike.
The "Silence" part of the ride was taken very seriously. As far as I saw, nobody said a word the whole ride. We just rode and listened to the various cars make racket at us either throw yelling unintelligible words or honking. It's not always immediately clear when people are trying to show their support, or trying to be asses, so I make a habit of giving everyone a friendly smile and wave, even when their intentions are clear.
Our first stop was at the intersection of Magnolia and Apalachee Parkway where Jarryd was killed. He had some friends and family there. They took one of our Ghost Bikes and chained it up at a post.
It was a very emotional scene. Lots of crying. One guy told Jarred's story about falling in love with bicycles recently.
Local news was there, and they interviewed Justin Pogge. Then we left for our next stop.

http://tallahassee.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080522/NEWS01/805220316&referrer=FRONTPAGECAROUSEL

Jarryd Everett Brown, the bicyclist who died in a Tallahassee crash Tuesday night, was part of a tightly knit community that is now mourning his death.

Brown, 22, grew up in the Miccosukee Land Cooperative, a neighborhood where about 100 families live, and he graduated from SAIL High School in 2004.

"When I went to school today, there were a lot of kids that needed hugs and, believe me, I needed them too," Mike Rychlik, an English teacher at SAIL and a neighbor of the Brown family said Wednesday. "He was very popular. The kids at the school really gravitated toward him but, he wasn't the swagger kind of popular guy. He was kind of low key. He was a loyal friend."

About 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, Brown was heading north on the west side of Magnolia Drive, said Tallahassee Police Department spokesman Officer David McCranie.

According to witnesses, Brown crossed Apalachee Parkway even though he had a red light. The driver of a Chevrolet Blazer heading west on Apalachee had a green light when he went through the intersection and struck Brown. The driver, who was not at fault, was William Wiehagen.

"The investigation continues but charges are not pending," McCranie said.

Brown was thrown from his bicycle and died on scene, he said. He was not wearing a helmet.

It was the second bicycle-related fatality in Leon County and Tallahassee this year. Carroll L. Moore, 64, died Feb. 26 from injuries he suffered from a crash a week earlier. A driver waiting to turn left onto Clara Kee Boulevard from U.S. 27 North didn't see Moore, who was riding his bicycle.

Earlier this month, a bicyclist was seriously injured after he was struck by a truck and dragged 100 feet on North Monroe Street.

Bicyclists were injured in 63 crashes last year in Leon County, but none died, according to preliminary data from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

The Miccosukee Co-op community helped Brown's family when his mother was sick with cancer. She died a few years ago, Rychlik said. They formed a healing circle and had potluck dinners at the Browns' home on Monday nights.

"It's really hitting us hard," Rychlik said. "For Scott (Brown's father) to lose a wife and to lose his only child is unbelievably burdensome and hard to fathom."

Georjean Thaell, another neighbor, said it was clear Brown was a loving person.

"When I would see him, I knew that he loved me and I think that a lot of people can say that about him," she said. "He had beautiful, big eyes that were kind of sad after his mother died."

Justin Pogge, a volunteer with Krank It Up, a community bicycle project, said he saw Brown last week.

"The bike he was riding was one he borrowed from a friend, and he was talking about how excited he was getting a bicycle and riding it around town," Pogge recalled.

Pogge was helping organize a ghost bike ride for Wednesday night. The ride is a memorial for local bicyclists who have died in crashes. He and others planned to spray paint an old bicycle white and chain it near where Brown died.

Two years ago we setup a ghost bike for a man who was killed near the Governor Square Mall. The bike has since been taken down so we put another one up.
The final stop was for a bicyclist that was killed near Lake Jackson. Lake Jackson is pretty far away. About half broke off and continued on to Lake Jackson. The rest of us headed back to Krank it Up.
Overall the ride was both emotional and exhilarating. It is coming up on the eve of Andrews death, and I thought about him, Aurora, and the rest of his family a lot. Death is a very difficult thing to deal with.

Some pictures from the ride:
http://tallahassee.com/apps/pbcs.dll/gallery?Site=CD&Date=20080521&Category=PHOTOS03&ArtNo=805210803&Ref=PH&Params=Itemnr=1
http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewPicture&friendID=22528266&albumId=1892362