A Washington state veteran died April 21 after his motorcycle was hit by a 16-year-old driver who was allegedly participating in a street race with another teenager.
Rollin Gray, 61, of Spanaway, Washington, was riding home on his motorcycle around 10:45 p.m. April 19 when the accident occurred, the News Tribune reported. The Vietnam and Iraq War veteran was one and a half blocks away from his home when two cars, a red Dodge Stratus and a black Acura TSX, came over the horizon toward him at high speed.
The Dodge was being driven by a 16-year-old boy with only a learner's permit, who was reportedly racing the 18-year-old driver of the Acura, KOMO reported. The teenagers were traveling at an estimated speed of 90 miles per hour.
When the Acura suddenly cut in front of the Dodge, the 16-year-old driver lost control of his vehicle and crashed into Gray, sending him and his Harley-Davidson motorcycle flying into the bushes.
The man suffered serious injuries to his head, back and leg. After the 16-year-old driver and a bystander helped pull him out of the bushes, he was taken to St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington, where he died two days later.
After serving in the Vietnam War, Gray reportedly won a long battle with cancer before going back to the military and serving in the Iraq War. He leaves behind his wife of 10 years, Becky Gray, a 29-year-old daughter, and a 17-year-old son.
“He was always larger than life,” Becky told the News Tribune about her late husband. “He would walk in a room and talk to everybody in the room. Nobody escaped. And everybody got a big hug, a real hug."
A friend told KOMO that Gray will be buried in the Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, Washington. The man's father, who was also a veteran, is buried there.
According to police investigating the crash, neither of the teenaged drivers or an 18-year-old passenger in the Dodge were impaired with alcohol at the time of the accident. The teenagers involved reportedly knew each other from school and had met up at a gas station prior to the crash.
Both drivers received citations immediately following the accident, and were released by police. However, the district attorney is considering filing stiffer charges against them in light of Gray's death, according to KOMO.