“Hey.” That is the text that George Hussey received on Feb. 16 that would cause an emotional reaction that Hussey was not prepared for.
“I was cutting the grass and received a message from my neighbor. “Hey,” was all it read, so I responded “Hey.”
The neighbor then called Hussey and told him of a cyclist that had just been hit and killed in the community and expressed that she was concerned about him and many others who cycle in the community and she was just checking on her friends.
Michael Shipp from Norfolk, Virginia was the victim and although Hussey had never met Shipp and had no idea who the cyclist was, it bothered him and many others that cycle in the small community of Manning. Hussey, along with Pete Surrette and Gene Morris, decided that they had to do something for Michael Shipp and his family.
Together, the three men decided to have a ghost bike memorial placed at the crash site, along with SCDOT ‘Share The Road’ signs to remind drivers to be cautious of cyclists and joggers as they have rights to the road just like drivers.
A ghost bike (also referred to as a ghostcycle or WhiteCycle) is a bicycle roadside memorial, placed where a cyclist has been killed or severely injured, usually by the driver of a motor vehicle (definition).
The men then went to work on the details. A memorial was planned for May 27. Working with SCDOT, the team was able to have two ‘Share the Road’ signs installed along the Sumter Highway, where the accident happened. One sign was placed on each side of the road a week before the memorial. Phil’s Bicycle World out of Florence donated a Trek cycle to be placed as the ghost bike. Trek is also the same bike that Shipp rode.
Hussey said, “I would like to thank Phil’s Bicycle World in Florence for the bike and Q Signs in Manning for making the memorial plaque and ordering the permanent one. Also, The Manning Times for giving information and publicizing the memorial,” said Hussey. “Also thanking the SCDOT for installing the ‘Share the Road’ signs and giving us guidance on where we could install them. Cyclists are a tight community, it is a brotherhood and sisterhood. When something this tragic happens, it affects us all. I feel it, I know Gene and Pete feel it. I liken the camaraderie to that of first responders and veterans. We are all the same and feel those tragedies. We lost a firefighter Friday night from Irmo and I know all of my first responder friends were hit emotionally. Then this was Memorial Day weekend as well. We ride that road often, it’s wide open and has great side lines so we have always felt safe. Hopefully the memorial will draw attention and awareness for cyclists. We all want to get home to our families.”
Surette felt the same. He said, “Our cycling community wanted to do something for Michael’s family to show them that there are good people in our area. When their family thinks of Manning, SC, they will always think of the tragedy that took the life of their loved one away, but we want them to remember the good things about our community. The ghost bike will always serve as a reminder of his death but it will hopefully educate drivers to be on the lookout for cyclists who also have the right of way.”
Due to the inclement weather Saturday, the group was unable to ride their cycles to the memorial, but along with police escort, the group rode into town and unveiled the memorial to Shipp’s widow, Ieasha and several other members of the Norfolk community that had driven down for the memorial service.
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