By Jackson Holtz Herald Writer
MONROE — Eight years ago, he joined the Rock Church in Monroe with a broken back.
When Michael Wallace died Saturday in a motorcycle crash, he left behind many a broken heart.
The Monroe man, 50, was killed Saturday while riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle along U.S. 2 near Index, the Washington State Patrol said.
Wallace was a great man, dedicated to work, friends and family, said Jeff Paulson, his boss at Hos Brothers Construction. Paulson said his friend died doing something he liked to call “throttle therapy.”
“He enjoyed riding his motorcycle. Nothing made him happier,” Paulson said.
Wallace’s children remembered him Monday as a friendly man with a gruff exterior who was always there for anybody who needed help.
“He was very well loved,” said his daughter, Cherise Durr, 25, of Monroe. “He looked like the mean, tough guy, but he was the biggest teddy bear in the world.”
The accident occurred about 6:15 p.m. Saturday while Wallace was riding with friends from church. A Monroe couple was waiting to make a left-hand turn off U.S. 2 when a Seattle man, 80, rear-ended their car with his pickup, pushing it into Wallace’s path, according to the State Patrol.
Wallace died at the scene in the arms of a church pastor who was part of the ride.
“It could have happened to any of us,” State Patrol trooper Keith Leary said. “It’s an unfortunate accident.”
Wallace is the 49th person killed since 1999 in accidents along U.S. 2 between Snohomish and Stevens Pass, according to the state Department of Transportation. A third of those fatalities occurred in crossover crashes.
Saturday’s accident happened after the state finished installing centerline rumble strips between Monroe and Stevens Pass, said Meghan Soptich, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.
The rumble strips are supposed to alert drivers who wander into oncoming traffic along the narrow highway.
“They are designed to prevent crossover collisions,” she said.
The entire rumble strip project, worth $4 million, should wrap up in mid-August when crews finish adding new striping and upgrading signs along the highway, Soptich said. Overall safety improvements for U.S. 2 are estimated to cost more than $2 billion.
Wallace’s family was busy Monday grappling with his death.
Durr said she’s expecting the birth of a daughter in August and was sad her little girl will never meet her grandpa.
In addition to his daughter, Wallace leaves behind a son-in-law, John Durr; a son, Bryan Wallace, a senior airman in the U.S. Air Force stationed in South Carolina; a granddaughter of Yelm; his parents of McCall, Idaho; and many siblings and friends. Wallace was a National Guard veteran and an active member of the Rock Church in Monroe.
Knight wrote on his Web site that he knew Wallace years ago when he had an injured back and was living a trailer. Over the years, Wallace strengthened himself and his back through his faith, Knight said.
“I know Mike is present with our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no doubt,” Rock Church’s pastor Jeff Knight wrote on his Web site.
“Who can understand why such amazing people must leave this earth and go to heaven? Only the Lord knows, and I, in my smallness, hesitate to ask God why because I know He is working together something great for all those who knew and loved Mike,” Knight wrote. “I’ll never replace my friend and confidant, he’s been too good to me. It’s hard to imagine another even close to Mike.”
Herald writer Yoshiaki Nohara contributed to this report.
Reporter Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3437 or firstname.lastname@example.org