Young widow pleads with community: "Watch out for motorcycles" - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Young widow pleads with community: "Watch out for motorcycles"

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PARKERSBURG (KWWL) -

A young widow and mother is pleading with her community to watch out for motorcycles to prevent another tragedy.

Wednesday three motorcycle crashes in Black Hawk County left three drivers injured -- all within a few miles, and a few hours, of each other.

"It's so simple not to have had three accidents today. And that's what drives me crazy about it," said Marie Walters.

One year ago, her husband Kris Walters went out on a motorcycle ride -- one of his favorite ways to spend an evening.

"The last thing Kris said to Brecken when he left was, 'I'll be right back buddy.' And he still remembers that," she said.

That night, the driver of a van hit and killed the 30-year-old father. Walters is now raising their two boys, Brecken and Berkley, on her own.

Their home is filled with photos and memories of their dad, and Walters talks about Kris every chance she gets. But when his tombstone finally arrived last month, the reality of her situation hit.

"I looked at it, and thought.... he's not coming home, is he? And there's a part of me that believes he'll just come walking through the door," said Walters.

Unfortunately, Kris' fate is more common than you might think. According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, in 2009, 49 drivers were killed in 47 motorcycle crashes.

"When we get called to a motorcycle accident, the risk for serious injuries and death is much, much higher. And it's that extra second somebody could take to look left and right and maybe look one more time, that could save you years of misery and heartache," said Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson.

Walters has taken her heartache and turned it into her inspiration. In May, she organized a poker run in Kris' memory. It was a beautiful day, but more important, the message was clear.

"The effect you can have just by taking a split second is unbelievable," said Walters.

Unfortunately, a day like Wednesday is a setback; three accidents in just a matter of hours.

"It's horrible to have a situation like what we've had today to help punctuate the importance of safe driving. But it's a huge responsibility we all take too much for granted," said Thompson.

Walters doesn't take anything for granted. She says, she will continue to speak, continue to remind drivers to watch out for motorcycles. If not for Kris, then for her children.

"I feel like I have to. Because there are so many other kids out there that are either going to lose a parent or they're not. And I hope, by me saying it enough times, hopefully they won't," said Walters.

Thompson asks motorcyclists to do everything they can to make themselves visible on the roads. He says bright, reflective colors can help a driver spot you. But again, Thompson says all drivers need to take an extra second to look for the smaller vehicles -- especially as we enter the summer months when more motorcycles are on the road.

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