Kalamazoo Area Runners (KAR) wishes to express our heartfelt condolences to the victims, their families and all those involved in the tragic incident that took the lives of five local cyclists, and injured four others. We thank the public safety officials and other first responders who apprehended the driver and cared for those impacted.
While we may not personally know each of the nine victims, such tragedy connects our community in a powerful way, bringing us together and instilling the desire to help in any way possible, regardless of whether we had a personal connection.
There is extensive overlap between the local cycling, multi-sport and running communities and we were deeply saddened to learn one of the cyclists who lost her life, Melissa Ann Fevig-Hughes was an active member of KAR and participant in the Summer Safari Program.
KAR Board Member Jim Pollock and his family knew Melissa well and shared,
“Melissa was a one-of-a-kind spirit whose bright red hair matched her fun, warm and engaging character. She was everything a mother should be and a phenomenal female role model to her two beautiful young daughters. Through love and leading by example, Melissa laid the blueprint for her daughters’ success in the world and in my view, accomplished her goal as a parent. She touched many peoples’ lives in our community with her fun, energetic spirit. Melissa is irreplaceable and will be forever missed.”
Debra Ann Bradley and Suzanne Sippel, who both lost their lives in the tragic incident, were also runners and recent members of KAR. Among the injured, Sheila Jeske, had been involved in KAR in the past, and actively involved in the running community through her work with the Pace for Poverty 5k and 10k (now InStride) in Richland.
As a running community, this tragedy hits close to home as organized group runs and training programs are an important part of each of our daily lives. Collectively, KAR and other local running groups have logged tens of thousands of miles on the roads of greater Kalamazoo, and with each mile that we share together, we have been blessed over the years, returning safely home to our loved ones. This tragedy could have just as easily been a group of runners as cyclists simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
As we strive to increase awareness and safe practices among motorists, as well as pedestrians, runners, cyclists and others who use means of non-motorized transportation, only then we will see such tragic incidents eradicated. Through advocating for shared responsibility, we can ensure the roads are safe to be travelled by all.
For those who wish to help the victims and their families, the Kalamazoo Strong Organization has set up a fund to donate to the 9 victims. The Kalamazoo Strong Organization is focused on supporting and enhancing our community through individuals and families who have faced life changing situations. More information can be found at www.kalamazoostrongorganization.org
We will pay tribute to the victims at start of both the 5k and 10k events at this year’s Kalamazoo Klassic on June 18th with a moment of silence.
Finally, may our thoughts and prayers go out to the cyclists and their families, may we continue to be Kalamazoo Strong and may our actions and strength as a community define who we are. We Are Kalamazoo.
Kalamazoo Area Runners (KAR) Board of Directors
Bonnie Sexton, President
Chelsea Dilla, Vice President
Ferdi Hintze, Treasurer
Heather Woodbury, Secretary
Board Members at Large
Joy Mills, Executive Director