St. George – A large crowd of civic officials and community members gathered along Telegraph Street in Washington City on a cold, rainy Friday afternoon to pay tribute to two cyclists who were killed earlier this month by a disabled driver.
“I wish there was no need for an event like this today,” Washington Mayor Chris Stahely said, standing near the white-coated bikes, also known as “ghost bikes” that represented brothers Matthew, 48, and Adam Pollard. , 49.
The brothers were riding their bikes down Telegraph Street as part of the Spring Tour of St. George on April 9 when 47-year-old driver Julie Ann Budge hit cyclists on the side of the road. They were riding in the bike lane beside the road. According to police documents, Budge was driving a damaged car at the time of the accident.
The brothers were taken to St. George’s Regional Hospital for treatment, where they were pronounced dead.
Before being taken to the hospital, the sons of the two men, who also took part in the race, climbed to the scene and witnessed the immediate aftermath.
“I wish Adam and Matthew were home with their families talking about the wonderful time they had in Washington County,” Stahely continued. “I wish we hadn’t gathered here today to mourn the preventable loss of two lives – but here we are. We are here with white bikes honoring two lives that didn’t need to be reduced.”
Stahele was one of a handful of local officials who spoke at the Pollard brothers’ memorial service. He was followed by St. George Mayor Michael Randall, Washington City Police Lt. Cory Kloots and St. George City Councilman Daniel Larkin, who spoke on behalf of the Southern Utah Cycling Federation.
Larkin said everyone has a story of someone they know who has been affected by someone being an irresponsible driver. She had her own story that she shared with the assemblers.
“In my own life when I was a little girl, my father’s life was taken in the line of duty because of the actions of someone who chose to drive irresponsibly,” she said. “My life and my family’s life changed forever on that day. The Pollard family’s life will be changed forever because of this irresponsible act.”
While members of the Pollard family were not present due to the funeral preparations taking place in California for the two brothers, it was streamed online by the City of Washington so the family could watch.
Stahely shared that Washington City Police Chief Jason Williams and the officer who supervised the scene were in California at the invitation of the Pollard family to attend the brothers’ funerals.
During her private notes, Randall shared that she received a call from a member of the Pollard family who expressed how grateful the family was for the support the community had shown them.
“If this tragedy happened, she would have said it happened in the best possible place,” Randall said. “Because they (the Pollard family) were surrounded by love and support from our community, she said that if it had happened in California where they were living, it would have been just another death and no one would care about it.”
Randall went on to say she hopes the two white bikes will serve as a reminder to people to avoid poor and distracted driving.
“One incident like this one is too many,” Staheli said after the monument. “Washington City does not tolerate idle or distracted driving.”
He warned everyone who spoke at the event about faulty and distracted driving and urged motorists to share the road responsibly.
“Our community, our visitors and those just passing through deserve to feel safe and protected as they cross out of town,” the officer said. “There is no excuse for poor or distracted driving. Let this event serve as a reminder of how fragile life is and how quickly it can change.”
Washington City, St. George, and the surrounding communities have embraced active transportation over the past decade and provided infrastructure—such as bike lanes and paths—that supports and encourages cycling, wakefulness, and so on. While additional infrastructure and an increase in bicycle use have coincided with growth, the number of cars they share the road with has also increased.
“Compared to where it was five or 10 years ago, we have more people driving as well as people getting back up and being on the road — more people means a higher probability of it happening (another accident),” Kloots said.
“If people can be vigilant — take those extra few seconds and wait for the car to pass and go take your turn. Just being in a hurry might save you five or 10 minutes max, but you compare it to something like this that happens, and it just becomes a tragedy that you will spend The rest of your life is to deal with it. Not worth it.”
The city of Washington will eventually build a more permanent memorial to the Pollard brothers, Stahely said. For now, white ghost bikes are a reminder to people not to make bad choices while on the road because they can lead to disastrous consequences.
A GoFundMe account has been created for the Bullard family and has raised over $100,000 as of Friday evening.
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