Approximately 100 bikers took to the streets of Edmonton on Sunday to commemorate the lives of two people killed recently in motorcycle crashes.
Harley Kelly, 23, died Sept. 10 when the motorcycle she was on struck a vehicle heading in the same direction on Victoria Park Road near Groat Road.
The crash threw Kelly off the motorcycle. The mother of a 10-month-old baby, died instantly; the driver was taken to hospital in serious condition.
Two hours later, Ziade Haddad, 29, was found dead on Parsons Road south of the Anthony Henday overpass. Police believe the motorcyclist was driving north and a vehicle was heading south on Parsons Road when they collided.
The memorial ride started at City Hall, where organizers gave a quick orientation to bikers about the plan for the ride.
“This is considered a funeral,” said co-organizer Cory Bacon.
Bacon later told Global News that those instructions were meant to convey the fact that the memorial ride was a way for people to say goodbye at the crash sites.
“To say their last words,” he said.
The group made their way through downtown Edmonton before snaking down Victoria Park Road, where they congregated at one crash site.
Morgan McGiven, Kelly’s best friend, said the turnout would have meant a lot to Kelly.
“She would think it was so surreal,” McGiven said.
“Seeing everybody come out and participate in this, I know Harley would love that and it would have meant the world to her.”
Draiven Wikstrom, aunt of Kelly’s baby, said there was extra significance to the crowd.
“With everybody not really knowing her that well and them actually still sticking with it and having her a part of this – it means a lot,” she said.
At Kelly’s crash site, friends consoled one another, left flowers at a memorial and left stickers and messages, such as “rest in peace” and “I love you so much,” on the road sign. The group clapped as two bunches of balloons were released in memory of Kelly.
The bikers then rode to Parsons Road where some revved their engines as they road by the memorial for Haddad.
Close friends were too overcome with emotion to speak with Global News about Haddad. Other bikers wrote messages like “we miss you bro” on a light post where a memorial sits; some bikers got down on one knee during parts of the vigil.
“He rode with me. He was a good guy, a very cautious rider” said friend Jason McCann.
Organizers said the memorial ride was a chance for the community to grieve. But it was also an opportunity to raise awareness about safety on the roads.
Bacon said memorial rides help bring the motorcycle community together.
“Everybody likes to feel a bit of closure when someone dies. We also like to make the public aware of motorcycles on the road and that’s why we turned out in such a large group,” he said.
The Major Collision Investigations Unit of the Edmonton Police Service is investigating both incidents.
-With files from Kendra Slugoski, Karen Bartko and Morgan Black