Shawn Brent Gerald, the 28-year-old son of Floyd County Supervisor Fred Gerald of Indian Valley, died Sunday night when his motorcycle crashed into a car turning left on U.S. 11 near Fairlawn.
The driver of the car, Jerry Wayne Viars, 35, of Max Meadows, was charged by Virginia State Police with driving under the influence of alcohol.
State Police Sgt. Michael Conroy says an initial investigation into the accident shows Gerald racing with a Ford Mustang at the time of the accident. The driver of the Mustang fled the scene and police are still seeking information on the car and its whereabouts.
"There are multiple factors," Conroy told The Roanoke Times. "And if you take away one of them, you may not have had this tragedy in the first place. Here you have speed, you have alcohol."
Any parent who has ever lost a child in a senseless, tragic accident such as this knows the pain Gerald’s family feels. As one who also rides a motorcycle, I know full well the dangers that come from traveling the public roads on two wheels. Taking chances on a bike only increases the danger and lowers the odds for survival. As a recovering alcoholic who works with others who battle the beast of substance abuse, I also know that climbing behind the wheel of a car while drunk turns one into an instrument of death.
Life is precious and can be cut short in an instant. My condolences to Fred and his family. Knowing a tragedy such as this could have been avoided does not lessen the sorrow and sense of loss that all of us feel.